Friday Feb 28, 2020
Friday Feb 28, 2020
Friday Feb 28, 2020
This conversation is all about how to listen and live in a magical way to the world around you. Enrique and Andrew speak about birds and language. Enrique's ideal new idea about divination. A special message Andrew got from the birds recently and much more.
Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here. then you can check out the bonus episode where Andrew and Enrique talk about how to listen to the birds. Including a recording on one of Enrique's bird songs.
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Welcome to another episode of the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today with Enrique Enriquez. How do you introduce Enrique? I think that we could say that they maybe are a poet, that they are maybe a magician. Perhaps it's easiest to say that they are an emissary for the nation of birds, but they're a person who does a lot of things. They've been on before a couple times, so if you enjoy this, definitely dig out the previous episodes, I think that they're well worth listening to. But how are you introducing yourself these days, Enrique?
I don't know, Andrew, it's very ... it's always very good to see you and I always find problematic to record these things with you because I am ... or I feel so at ease with you. But I always worry that nothing will come out of it. It's like just two friends hanging out.
I think that could actually be like the subtitle for The Hermit's Lamp podcast. Just a couple of friends hanging out and talking about stuff. I think that's every episode.
Yes, which is beautiful.
No, I don't know. I went to see a friend of mine the other day, she was visiting New York and I had to meet with her. The only chance I had to meet with her was the Beast Art Gallery, an opening that she was somehow related to, and I arrived there. She grabbed me by the arm and she walked me around the room introducing me to every single person as a magician.
And of course I flinched and then I flinched a little bit more and then I thought, "Well, she's philosopher, be smart. She probably knows what she's doing." Maybe she has reason to call me a magician, but I don't know.
Maybe we should ... we'll contact her and ask her what that reason was. We can share that somewhere afterwards or maybe it's best not to know, right?
Yeah. I think names should be given even ... We are given a name when we are born and then maybe we are given other names by other reality people, institution organizations, and it's the same thing. It's better for the name to be something that is given to you or maybe you get to live up to it.
I think that that resonates for me. I always felt like in this era of social media and online presence, that I should come up with some pithy, witty, catchy thing to refer to myself as, other than what do you do? Where are retail cards? It is so many people have these great slogans and catchphrases and so on. But I've never come up with one, I've given up. After 17 years, I think it's plenty of time to give up on that process. But I remember being in China a couple of years ago where I was doing some teaching and doing readings with my friend Carrie. And I was talking to this woman who ... she was talking to me about her guru and she was like, "How long have you been reading cards for?"
And I was like, "I've been reading cards for about 30 years and professionally for whatever it was at that time," and so on. And she's like, "Oh, so you're like a Grand Master then." And I was like ... and immediately, my response was, I'm like, "I don't know, maybe you should ask Carrie if that's true or not." Because I just didn't want it. Like you said, I flinched. But I've thought of it that moment a lot since then. And I think that acknowledgement from the community or from people of it or the bestowing of that name from people is actually where maybe the real power is. There are lots of people who posts, they sign off with Supreme Grand Master of Taro or whatever, so on and so on. Maybe it's true, but I think when it comes from the outside, it approximates truth more closely.
I completely agree and I would move by my friend Jasper because I felt okay, maybe I have done something to be called magician, and I'm okay with that as long as it's not me who is the one saying that's what I am. But I don't worry about ... I don't know names or labels. That's the problem with some words that really turn reality opaque in that way in which then nothing else can be seen through that name. People just give things a name to put a stop to having to think about them.
I'm an Aquarius. I'm a Reiki Master. I'm a ... whatever.
How are you?
I'm doing pretty good. I want to share with you a bird story.
So seeing as seen as birds is something we definitely share a common in. And maybe I've told this on the podcast before, but I can't remember right now. But last October, I ended a long relationship and day two after I ended it, I found a bird nest on the ground with three robin eggs in it. They were all broken. And so I looked at it and I was like, "Yup, that's the end of something." And I saved it. I brought it in and I made sure it was dry. Around here somewhere, I kept it and I felt this very clear acknowledgement from that other side about this situation.
And then maybe two months later, I was walking through this lane way that I walked through to get to my studio most of the time. And I saw a pigeon with what looked like a branch stuck over its head. And I was like, "Huh, how am I going to convince this pigeon to let me free it from this thing that it's got. And when I got a bit closer, I realized that it was in fact not trapped, but it was ... sorry, I'm going to pause this, and episode afterwards.
Restarting now. I saw that it was in fact not trapped, but it was holding the branch in its mass and it was a pretty big branch. So it looked like part of it wrapped around its head and so on. And as I got closer, it flew up and it circled and instead of flying away, or instead of flying to one of the many patches on the building with the pigeons in that area, it circled above me a couple of times. And as it did, so it dropped the branch and it fell right into my hands. I didn't have to reach out for anything. Literally, it fell into my hands because I thought it was going to hit me in the face. And so I saved that and I was like, "Oh, now here's the beginning of that new nest. Here's the beginning of that new thing." So there is my bird story for you.
That's ... Thank you for telling me. I had never heard that before and it's just perfect. The weird condition of flying. You said they are at the same time. Part of the landscape and exception to the landscape. There all the time, but then there is a moment that particular image which would have been irrelevant otherwise gets active for you right there. And then there is something beautiful about the way that they give consistency to themselves. There's a second [inaudible 00:09:15] so to speak. The pigeon with a branch on its beak, it's even more relevant because you found the [inaudible 00:09:24].
And this is symmetry to it, right?
Yes. And I think that the most important thing I learned from ... sorry. He said the space in between the cars, he's made out of time. On the table, we don't see that because it happens really fast and in fact all oracles are [inaudible 00:09:51] for all to accelerate time. But that space, that time, the more we look at card, the wider you become. So we can inhabit that space in between the images. And then we realized, "Oh, but that's space is light and the images are happening all the time." There is card that is eats with the three broken egg and then there is a card that eats the pigeon with the branch with its beak. And just in the space, in between, the key I think is to know how to wait. And I'm more and more convinced that wakened with ISA, of course, a very active dance of faint, of painting, it's the greatest oracle. That's the oracular state is the state of waiting.
I think that that capacity to be present and open, but not fixated is really important to magic, to divination, to listening to birds, to all of the things, right?
Yeah. I spent the weekend talking to some crows in Massachusetts and I think that one very important thing for me is that ... if they're having a conversation with a crow across the main street of this little town, and somebody wanted to know what the crow was saying. And then some other day, I told these crows and I start calling them day and night. They came and they drew a circle over my head. They were talking to me, but basically drawing the beautiful circle on top of me.
And what I find or what I encounter all the time is that people then want for me to provide some ornithological conclusion. I talk to the birds because somehow now I'm going to learn something about crows. And I have no ornithological basis. Both events like the nest you found or the bird with the branch on its beak, both are emblem for the language of the birth, which is precisely the stability to merit with time by paying a patient is the rhythm of the world. Of course, I'm just putting these images in the world and somehow, they add up because yes, you find somehow they're concrete reality. The facts go so on. Maybe in two months we will find ... I don't know what, with some sort of branch, we let it image that we'll [inaudible 00:12:58] in that moment.
Well, I think that people are often, and I at times have often been in a hurry to arrive at meaning or definition or so on, and I think that that's one of the ... if one of the powers of reading tarot cards is the space, one of the dangers is the definition. Yet to me, the definition of things is a thing that comes in time. And I think that especially at some point in my ceremonial magic career, I just started to treat meetings, messages, things that came, I'm like, "Well, we'll see what that means in time." Maybe in a few years I'll know what that means. Maybe in a few years, it'll feel true still. We'll see. And that sort of openness to it, it allows for change, which might actually be the most important part of the process as opposed to definition, which is comforting, or has the appearance of comfort but doesn't really necessarily always or maybe even often benefit us in a bigger picture sense.
Yeah. In fact, my suspicion as at the moment is that if we have a question and we need the answer right away, that means that's the wrong question. I think that there's a credential in our goals between motivation and acceptance. We want our spiritual materials, so to speak, the things we consume within the frame of the spiritual, to provide motivation. So we feel that we can tackle life or go up and do things, and accomplish something then which people call inspiration.
And I think that it's very important to focus on acceptance. Not only from the mentally, the acceptance of the dignity of that thing that is before, all good or bad, but also the acceptance of a bigger picture or a wider pattern that is taking place and one way of naming that will be changed as you're doing, is time and understanding that everything is simply happening. Of course for me personally, and I'm not suggesting people should do that, I will also say everything is happening and I don't matter, which gives me a lot of freedom. It's not about me. I understand that for people, a lot of them need to be the center of the circle. But in any case, yes, you become a witness of reality and somehow you realize that then you are reality too. And then we also become part of the landscape, an exception to the landscape now and then.
Well, certainly we can become an oracle to other people, right?
As part of the landscape and an exception too. But I'm very curious about this idea as it relates to the more ... I completely relate to it from a spiritual perspective, from a practice perspective, even from my perspective as being a person who does readings for other people. To me, all of those things, I completely relate to it. I'm curious how you relate that back to the more mundane but also miraculous things like your appearance. How does that idea trickle back into parenthood for you? Or into your relationship or into those sort of day to day domestic parts of your life?
I always tell people that the fact that they can speak like a bird doesn't mean that they'll have to do laundry. No. And of course in New York, that basically means that you have to grab a big bag of 30 clothes and then go out. In most places in New York, you don't have this laundry machine in your apartment, so you have to actually want to go to those winters knowing who these places were. In the movies, there's always fantastic tech happening that's nice, but I go in the morning so it's really boring. So, a daily for steward of some ... let's call it [inaudible 00:18:27] it could be your head in the clouds thinking of a bird and words and signs and oracle. At some point, I think that that's the dignity. Saying like doing laundry.
And I remember I used to hate that particular thing. Going out to do laundry is just extraordinarily boring. And then I realized well this is somehow they cancel weight. I mean I need this thing. I need the key, I need the fact that they are hungry or bored because otherwise, I will just disappear. But you need that, you need that reality to keep doing pension. That versatility where all [inaudible 00:19:16] aspiring us. It's only rates if you have an [inaudible 00:19:20] and a view low. I appreciate those things now. I go to do my laundry in a suit because I feel that there is an extra-ordinary dignity in doing that too. And the same with everything, I think it's very hard to accept the dignity of the things we don't like. I suspect that at the end, we are all guided by our aesthetic preferences.
We have an idea of what's beautiful and then we pursue that and then everything else just gets along. But I do feel that the mundane half that wait, and that's what it is. It's a way that keeps you grounded. What I don't do is to focus any oracular pursue on the mundane. I think that there are questions that have no form and they manifest as intuition. They are not been named, you don't know what they are, so trying to be useful to somehow point you in some direction or ... but daily life takes care of itself. It works clockwork. So I don't agonize over children, family, school, I don't know, housing, work. I think those things will happen anyways. The ground is there. The problem is how high can you fly? So the ground is always there.
I think it's one of the things, it's always a good interesting question for me. And I am a person who points Oracle at mundane things but not regularly. Like sometimes and when necessary, but I tend to ... my daily practice, it drifted to this general question, how do I show up fully today? As my question to the cards and at some points in the last six months or so, the question just disappeared and it just becomes this open time, in a way that I imagine you with your pen in your notebook and letters and images and cards and ... where's it going? What is it? Who knows? It is what it is. And at the end, maybe there's something concrete that you could point out or show about it, but often it's just much more ephemeral than all of that, you know?
Yes. Very often, it's just about maintaining the day. And again to me, that has to do with the idea becoming one with time. It's not really about finding a solution or an answer because it's not even about asking a question. It's just about being present and of course I like this idea of a symbolic world, that it's [inaudible 00:22:49] not very clear and it's not real riding over your thoughts on the real world or daily life and it becomes more than or more federal depending on when and where we are. And I like to be a witness so that world, but many times it's the rare act of witnessing the life of form, what provides some benefits or a sense of being okay.
That can give you ... and I will maybe [inaudible 00:23:27] to put a very concrete example. I am completely convinced that what'd really help when we look at card, it's not they images just themselves, it's not the words we used to acquire the images, it's not the answers we get, it's the experience of looking of them. It's the consistency in the pattern of the images. It's a due painful experience of images that makes [inaudible 00:24:05] feel better. And somehow, feeling better it's not just ... I don't know, a sensation, it's that sense of truth, like when you feed a bird and you understand that you know something and you don't have to even to be able to [inaudible 00:24:24], but you know it, you'll know it. And it's the same ... Yes.
It reminds me ... I recently just reacquired a bicycle after having my bicycle stolen near the start of the year. The joys of living in a large city. I'm speaking of things that can be tremendously grounding but not in a desirable way. But this conversation and the idea of the influence of reading cards, it reminds me of ... I live in Toronto, which is a city of tall buildings and less open spaces and so on. And one of the ways in which I really have noticed that at other times is if I'm cycling across town, like maybe 20, 30 minutes to a friend's place and when I leave the house, if the moon catches my eye, for example, you go and it's like, "Oh look at the beautiful full moon tonight."
And then you cycle along and then you cross University Avenue and the buildings have this open pathway and suddenly, there's the moon again. And then a little bit later as you get out pass Bathurst, where the buildings start to get short, and you're like, "Oh there's the moon again." And having a reading is like that initial connection where you see the moon, you go, "Whoa." It makes you stop, right.
Time stops for that moment. Look at it and you're like, "Look at it, beautiful, oh look at the color of the sky." For me, it always trickles out into a bunch of things usually. Once I notice a thing like that, at the very least admitted or to have me just gazing upwards and feeling the expansiveness of that experience and then having a meeting and then flows through into those other points through time where that process returns to us, whether through the images of the words or the idea of memory, and it echoes that trip across town of that, reconnecting with what I would call it with the moon and a sublime experience.
But certainly, the metaphysical or transformative experience of having a reading.
Well, because again, I think that the reading or the experience of the cards is just part of a continuum of science. There are some are being insisted upon us. So yes, maybe the reading is that based where we frame our attention and say, "Oh, this is meaningful." But basically, the moon that you are looking at in the cars is the ones that will reappear then behind a building. And the same thing will happens with the idea of the tower people breaking apart and then you will see two people walking in different directions. So you will see a chain that somehow snaps and you'll realize, "Oh, it's the same idea, the same idea is being insisted upon me." I don't think that there is any example that will talk your example with the nest and then the pigeon of the branch.
It's the same idea. You have a mindset and a series of concerns or a way of being in the world. And then reality is just giving you these things in a way to say, well this is how things are, this is where you are, this is who you are. And I think the cards are a great training tool for that. These days, I'm thinking that the Oracle of the future will be a person who has a hole puncher in one hand and the stack of blank cards on the other. So when the person comes with a question or big and scientists about something, the person just punch a hole in the card and give it to them. And that's the Oracle.
To me, there are two terms of Oracles. To me, two things are very important. One is that initial definition of the Oracle is an opaque statement, which by extension then names the person who gives or delivers those statements, and the other one is Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher when he wrote, the Oracle neither reveals nor conceals but gives signs. Which to me is the most useful model to understand what I do.
There is this idea of punching a hole in a blank card and giving it to the other person so they can see through. And of course the idea of through which in French means hold to and is the beginning of [inaudible 00:29:33] which is to find, and then the card which there is a French word name which you can use for. In Spanish, it's very easy, it's [Laminna 00:29:43]. In English, you don't have an exact word like that. But in any cases are worth four cards. You can have the card, which is this lamp and lamp sounds like lamp, which is the soul. The idea of punching a hole in the soul, so you can see through. It is all implicit in the act of handing somebody something that basically allows them to focus their attention in a very narrow point.
I love it. As you're speaking about it, I was picturing you in a fancy tent somewhere, in the fence. The people lined up, it's like be like, stack of cards and your whole puncher and still be like, don't tell me anything, there you go.
Exactly. Because at the end of course if we think about an Oracle, that's an opaque statement or the statement is the whole, and then the opaque is the actual card. Making a statement in the opaque is a way of playing with that idea of the opaque statement. But currently, I'm very happy applying the same thoughts to just making bird sounds. I think we talked about that last time.
Are you reading cards any more of these days?
Not at all. I have a daily engagement with the cards because I teach people how to look at them. And I have fine tune my practice, so we only look at the trumps of [inaudible 00:31:31] which is the card I'm interested in and it really becomes a way to understand a poetic structure that if or when it takes a hole in you, then you can find in the world to the point that you no longer need the cards. But the basis is that we look at cards and we talk about them
And then I have learned because of that work with people, we usually don't work with questions. We don't use questions in our practice, we just look at the cards and we describe what we see. And I realized that in time, that work has a benefit for those who engage with it, which is not only learning how to read the cards, it's that they feel better, which again confirms my idea that exposing ourselves to this rhythm of the images is in itself a beneficial thing. [crosstalk 00:32:36] please.
When I created the land of the sacred self Oracle, which is black and white surrealists Oracle deck that I made-
I remember it.
... I created it with that intention. So it's like I created it not with the goal that people would look at them and be like, ah, this is what it means, oh, here's my affirmation for the day, or here's the concrete or the opaque thing that I can arrive at. But instead, as a hole through a card into another world for people where they could have experiences and engage with them and whenever I work with those with people, the experience is the same. The initial response is, I have no idea what's going on in this, and I'm like, "Great, that's perfect. Now let's look at it, now let's talk about it, now let's open up that space so we can go through it."
And at some point in that journey, they tend to feel better and have a sense of direction or what have you. And sometimes that is very communicable and sometimes it's not. And I think that the idea that we can have need an answer that we can express concretely to other people or we failed is not always true. I think there are times when it's true or where that's what's required. But I think it's a bigger picture practice opening up and engaging in that mystery is really what allows us to let the Oracle reveal itself to us, which is always something outside of being able to clearly articulate the scope of what it means.
Yes. A sign should either deliver or some knowledge, which I will optimally call poetic knowledge. That means that it's maybe not even again possible to express it in words, it's just this understanding that you get about the way certain aspects of reality coincide for work or the Oracle or the sign I'm sorry will be a call to action.
And I don't mean that in practical terms, I mean in an emotional way. Something torches you and you feel that you're ready to something or you're ready not to do it or you're somehow ready to take a stance, and it's a purely emotional response to a sign you have been given. Most of that exist outside of a rational analysis. And I feel even sometimes, people say, well, I saw you even a dream and you told me ... for example, you told me how to read the cards but I don't remember anything you said. Or, you told me something and it was very important but I don't remember the words.
And I feel very happy because I think that whatever that was, it's not meant to be put into language. It's just there. It's pure poetic knowledge. At the end, I always feel the same thing. We're trying to figure out how to leave and that pretty much means we are trying to protect our psyche from the daily grind, life throwing all these nonsense adults and we are just trying to remain somehow cool. And I think signs, oracles, they can do that.
I think the idea of definition of self is one that when it's rooted in language, like when I was trying to come up with that fantastic phrase to communicate the fullness of what I offered to people through divination, that doesn't go anywhere. Maybe it does for some people, but I've never understood it. It doesn't go anywhere for me. But this sense of the fullness of ourselves and the sense of the fullness of sharing that with someone else or experiencing it with the birds or the moon or whatever ways those, those things can be enduring in ways and solve problems in ways that definitions around language rarely seem to or don't seem to. And it reminds me how many years ago I started this podcast. I started the podcast because I had been thinking about my last year of working with clients and thinking about what I called my successes and not successes with those people.
And the question that I had was, why do some people change and why do other people stay the same? And so the first half dozen episodes of this are me asking various seasons card readers that question, and I think that hearing what you just said actually to me feels like it is actually probably the clearest answer that people need some emotional or internal shift to happen that isn't rooted in language or explanation and isn't necessarily accessible through language or rationality or explanation and until, or if ever that thing happens where Enrique and I appear in your dream and you can't remember anything but suddenly you wake up desiring to make a shift in your life.
Until that unpredictable peace emerges, we can seek that experience, we can foster it, but we can't guarantee that it happens neither as diviners nor as people. Right?
Absolutely. And I like to think ... going back to this idea of the magician, a friend wrote to me and asked me, "Are you a magician? I need the magic." And I told her, "But I do slow of hand." I believe or I'm interested in an idea of magic, which is not the imposition of a will, but the absence of a will. So you make yourself present, your presence has an effect in reality, even if you don't want to and then you wait. And there is a lot of magic that happened that way, but of course maybe this is the beginning of magic trick and we wouldn't know until tomorrow or the next year. And I'm okay with it. Of course again, going back to your initial comment, there is no way to create a slogan to market that in a powerful way, which I think is big to the honesty of the premise.
I think we are obviously rooted in language and actually we become subtle true language. Language is this thing that happens in our body and as the air goes out and we reshape it with our mouth and tongue and teeth, it goes off. And as soon as he's out there, you'd acquire some metaphysical consistency. So there is something remarkable happening there. But it doesn't mean that it's everything. And as you were saying, it's not until we have an emotional response that we are ready to change or to move or to basically experience all the things.
And perhaps, a paradox that I find in the current world is that when we talk about emotions, we confuse that with sentimentality. We have countless books and posters and memes and pictures that have these sugary tone because somehow they're going to appeal to your emotions and to appeal to our emotions when we don't need the pillow in the muffling the shot of the gun.
We just need the full blast. And there is that thing in the ... I don't know how to call it, the spiritual, the new age world that is all about muffling the sound. Making it comfortable, making it safe, which is the perfect recipe for nothing to change.
Well, we've been touching on the idea of sublime and the sublime, especially in landscape painting and that sort of historical stuff where people were working on that notion, that it was rooted in this idea that something was so grand and inconceivably large compared to our personal smallness, that it evoked a sense of overwhelmingness and openness up to a sense of our place in the universe. And there's a degree of at the least anxiety and that maybe if something much stronger too.
It doesn't need to be comfortable and it maybe [crosstalk 00:43:10] just can't even be comfortable.Right?
Yeah. Again, if you're comfortable in your chair, you won't stand up. Somehow, something has to happen. That chair has to get held or I don't know, a nail has to pull through and then you spring out of it and do something. But also, talking about the sublime, I guess that my main interest, which is this notion of the language of the birds, which has again, nothing to do with ornithology or science, but it has to do with precisely with some longing for the return to some ideal state, which is that we could use that word, just the state of the sublime.
This idea of the language of the birds is the original language or the secret language. So the idea of a return to the beginning and the idea that somehow that beginning is some paradise which is ... again, a place of longing. We look at a bird and it's almost consistently. The bird at least it's the longing for a promise that the bird is not making, but that we really feel it's there for us and we can achieve that return to that ideal state. State of freedom, state of weightless, state of beauty. And I think we are all somehow exiles from that place. And yes, we are all looking for a way back.
As always, I post on Facebook and ask if people have questions. And one of the questions that somebody asked was, how do you really listen to the birds? How does that happen? And I'm wondering if have a suggestion for people, especially if this is a newer concept for people. What could people might do to begin this journey, if they're inspired by this conversation?
Well, I am happy to report that I just finished teaching a class about the language of the birds that happened with me entirely talking like a bird. Every Monday, I will send a lesson, which was a recording of me talking like a bird, and then people had to listen and to transcribe that. And they were ... That too. Several different routes. And something very fortunate that happened is that mimicking birds implies understanding that we hear with our memory. The ear has some memory. That's how when you roll the wood against steel, you can hear a bird chirping.
[Gusto mashallah 00:46:35] the French writer has this beautiful idea, that the birds learn too by listening to a stream of water. And again, if you ... yeah, you can see it. If you hear the stream of water, the bubbling could be chirping. I'm talking about something that is so extraordinarily concrete and it's foreign. I hear to the birds in terms of the material. I hear to the birds and I'm all the time wondering, "Does that sounds like rubber, like wood, like metal?" How can I speak that language?
But also, one of the effects that this class had in some people was precisely that they were walking around and they will hear the brakes of a bus and hear a bird, recognize the same way again memory. I think what I'm trying to say maybe is that we need to listen to the concrete, to the actual form of the sound. And then to me, this has been even more important. We need to listen to the void inside the voice of the bird to the negative space, to the silence. And this is key when you're actually trying to mimic a bird because yes, you have the chirp and somehow you can make that, but then the rhythm only happens if you listen to how many times the bird stops. And that space could very well be the same space that you are walking on when you're between the nest and the pigeons.
It's always about situating yourself in that space. You think that sometimes ... Charles Bernstein, this American poet has a fantastic essay on homophonic translation and actually, he talks about bird song or he talks about this idea that poets have always wanted to talk like birds. So the idea of taking bird sounds and translating them into human words, something that for example another American poet, Robert Greene did in the past. He has all these sentences for the birds, which are human sentences, but they can be retraced back into the sounds of the birds around his home in Vermont. You can also do that. You can also try to find in the voice of the bird, that which is familiar, which is a way of saying you can try to find in the voice of the bird Dan, which is you. And then you're surprised by the things you find.
But then I had other people who work in this class with me. Did something brilliant and they use the bird songs as dream words. This is based on a 14th century, [inaudible 00:50:13] idea of name is widespread in the Sufi world or mostly where the idea that certain words, if you repeat them as you're falling asleep, they improve the chances that you will have beautiful dreams. A couple of people working with me did this, of playing the recordings of my bird voices as they were falling asleep and then they registered their dreams and the results were absolutely spectacular.
Going back to that sense of something that exists or is transmitted in a purely poetic way, there were all these beautiful immigrants and ... Perhaps with these, I'm trying to say there is a way of listening that is conscious. You could listen to see this sounds like this, this sounds like [crosstalk 00:51:11], I'm pretty sure that people will be able to or even [inaudible 00:51:14] French composer to write down the notation for the song of a bird. But there's another way of listening than maybe more unconscious. Listening when you're not listening.
It strikes me that there's ... you hear the song, you become aware of the song and at some point in the transition to noticing the space in the song or in art or whatever, there's almost like an inversion that starts to happen, where we get pulled inside of something else. That whole in the corridor all of a sudden. The card being the song that we're looking at, we're seeing the pattern and the things and then at some point, we noticed that there's an opening. And if we're in the receptive mindset to that, not sitting with expectation and anticipation, we can fall through that like Alice through the radicle and so on and end up in another world.
Yes, experience is ...
Are different are poetic but also inspire a sense of connection to ourselves and so on.
It's like walking by the sea. You walk by the sea and the sea now and then it brings something to the shore and you'll pick it up and you say, "Oh, this is fantastic. Or this is for the Detroit back." But you can't command the sea to drop on your lap what you want. You have to figure out how to use with the sea put in there.
Sure. [crosstalk 00:52:58] to drop a branch in his hands. Right? [crosstalk 00:53:03].
Yes if you're there, you're paying attention, then you [inaudible 00:53:09]. It's a miracle, but also that's something else that happened this weekend, I was about to have lunch with my son and I heard this crow and I looked up and I realized what I saw was a bald eagle. Okay which was ... ex gigantic and then I get here in this crow, and it was so strange, so I move around three and I saw that this crow that now looked like a fly next to the eagle was trying to chase the eagle out of the tree, which is what they do is their job basically.
And then of course there was a moment when my wife ... wives always do the same things that ... something is happening to people are having an argument, an eagle on a crow and then your wife will say, "Go, do something. Talk to the guy." So I went and I talked to the crow and I managed to make him stop for a while, but the ... and then we went into have lunch, but this is the thing. This was the dining hall in this college my son goes to. And as soon as I entered and my son was inside and as soon as I told him there is a full eagle outside, every single kid in that dining hall dropped everything and ran out.
I never expected that reaction. There was no social media involved, there was just ... the absolute, the excitement was again ... by saying there is a bowl eagle outside, it was like I pressed an emotional bottom that was completely irrational. They didn't even hesitate or figure out, they just dropped it, the trades with the foot and ran out. And I felt again that they understand that it's a miracle. That thing out there, which is basically an object that fell off the symbolic world, and for a moment, it's there on the three. It's a miracle. And that's the choice, and I think that signs are always based on choice. We choose to activate or deactivate a sign. We choose to acknowledge this is a sign. You could have passed by that nest with the tree X and ignore that completely or kick it even. You decided, you choose to pay attention to it and just the way that, that prepare you to be aware of the pigeon with the branch.
And in the same way as choosing to go and walk by the ocean, if we persist in that practice, then the ocean will give us science because we're there.
Yes. Everything is ... absolutely and the present is there is the presence is meaning and that the word you use, it's a practice and of course again in time, you will feel that the sea is giving you things all the time. And it's not necessarily true, maybe we're a few weeks in between or months, but you are in your practice. So the hour, of that practice makes reality speak to you in really a constant way.
I'm reminded of ... Jason Miller wrote a piece about ... I'll try and include a link in the show notes. I think the title was something like your practice doesn't care if you feel like it. And the sort of gist of it was around devotional work that ... it doesn't matter if you're in the mood or not. If you've made a commitment, you should show up and do the thing anyway. Whether a thing comes from it or not, whether you feel better because of it or not, that in many ways, the power of devotion and offerings in the context of deity work is in your consistency, in your persistence over time.
And I think that in the same way, I had a lovely bike ride back from meeting my girlfriend for coffee today and I didn't have any miraculous occurrences. It was a nice bike ride, but the moon wasn't out, it was whatever. But that attention is always there so that when those things do wash up on the shore, I can pick them up. And I think that that endeavoring to be open to that at a basic level consistently is what also produces it, right?
Yes. And We have to be open and again, we have to accept the dignity of whatever that is. It may not be what we want or it may not be something. Actually I think the whole point is for it to be surprising, for it to be something we're not expecting. Otherwise, if it's only like a confirmation of bias, then what's the point? But I think a lot about gas career? This thing, the ...
[inaudible 00:58:42], Africa.
I love this idea of grounding egg shells to a powder that you can use to draw things with and somehow with those drawings, you call on something. Right. And I think that I ... I like to think that ... a friend of mine said that I draw a magic circle around this café I go everyday, that that's my magic circle. And I liked the idea that routine is discuss career. Routine is round in these actual to a powder. You do it over and over and over and over and basically yes, it comes to a point in which your routine drew a magic circle around you and then these things are happening there because basically, you are there. As you say, they happen because you show up. And of course, I'm sure that there are wonderful things that's happening while nobody is watching.
And when we don't show up.
But when you went inside the bald eagle and the crow said, "Ooh, I'm glad they left. We can put this aside for a minute."
And that's also beautiful to think that ... to think of all the signs that are taking place in our absence. It's also something that fills me with joy.
No, I love it.
Older things are not for me.
Well, maybe that's a great place to wrap it up for this conversation. Go practice, go grind it down, go make it sacred, magical, or poetic or whatever you prefer, and listen and you'll see what shows up.
Yes, absolutely. I don't know why, I prefer poetic because perhaps it makes them more concrete. But at the end, it's all the same thing.
Definitely. Thanks for recording another one of these, my friend.
No, thank you. It's always so good to see you. Come to New York.
It's on my agenda for sure.
Friday Feb 14, 2020
Friday Feb 14, 2020
Friday Feb 14, 2020
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Welcome to another episode of The Hermits Lamp Podcast. I am here today with Shaheen Miro and Theresa Reed, aka The Tarot Lady. I've known Theresa for years. She's been on the podcast before. You should certainly go back and find those episodes. I will link to them in show notes. Theresa is a fantastic astrologer, a tremendous business person, and a wonderful card reader.
I've known Shaheen a little less time. We had the pleasure to meet at Readers Studio, big conference in New York, a couple of years ago. They really are a delightful, kind, mystic, and insightful human beings. This episode came about because the two of them put out a book called Tarot For Troubled Times. And those of you who listen know that I don't really do book or deck reviews or these kinds of things.
But also, life's been hard for a lot of people over the last while; financially, economically, socially, there's a lot of difficult stuff going on in the world. It really occurred to me that chatting with these to find people would be a wonderful way to maybe talk about how do we deal with that stuff. Because life is not always easy. So, for people who don't know who you are, Shaheen, maybe you want to just give us a quick introduction.
Yeah. I'm Shaheen Miro, and I am an intuitive reader. I'm the coauthor of Tarot for Troubled Times, and I'm also the creator of the Lunar Nomad Oracle. I just do lots of magical stuff all over the internet and the world. So, that's me.
My name is Theresa Reed, and like Andrew said, I'm known as The Tarot Lady. I've been a full-time Tarot reader for about 30 years, which seems like a lifetime. I am the author of The Tarot Coloring Book and Astrology For Real Life, and the coauthor of Tarot for Troubled Times with the beautiful Shaheen Miro.
Excellent. So, I guess this question for me is, really, what do you do when life is difficult? I go on social media, and some days it's depressing, some days it's absolutely uplifting and wonderful. You read the news, and we've got climate change, we've got all sorts of political unrest. At the time of the recording of this, we have the Corona Virus that's kicking around making everybody afraid. There's a lot of stuff that can really drag us down and is genuinely concerning, or is worthy of some level of concern.
But also, we still got to get up. I still got to get up and get my kids to school. I still got to show up and work on my accounting for my business. I still got to hang out with the person I'm dating and be present. So, where do you start if stuff's dragging you down and trying to move beyond that?
I think you start right where you are. That's the biggest thing. I was talking with some clients yesterday, and I think there is this idea that life is supposed to be easy if you're doing things correctly. I just feel like that is such a toxic mindset, and I feel like it keeps us from moving into this present moment. I know that that sounds really, I don't know, cliché, to be present and be here now, but I think it's so true with everything that's happening in the world. Because otherwise, you just become overwhelmed by literally everything because there's something happening on all fronts.
I agree with the being present thing because it's so often when life gets hard, what do we want to do? We want to numb out. We don't want to be there. We want to maybe zone out in front of the TV, or turn to drugs or alcohol, or retail therapy. That's so common. We become obsessed with the past or obsessed with the future. And the present moment is really ultimately, as real as it sounds, the only thing that matters when life is tough. You have got to be where are you are, and then you also have to make yourself care the priority.
Yeah. Something that I have been reminding myself of lately... And I started thinking about this because of this book I read. It's called something like Get Shit Done by a woman named Sarah Knight. She talks about your to-do list and your must-do list. One of the things that she talks about in there is how we all have things that have to get done on a daily basis.
And so, I think about that with this idea of being present. It's like if you're present, then you might have one or two things that you have to face, accomplish, digest right now. But if you start getting stuck in the past or thinking about the future too much, then you become really attached to so many things that it's like your energy just gets zapped. I think that's such a... it's just such a common thing. We are taught to be in all those different places all at one time in our society. I think that's why we're all going crazy. I shouldn't say that word, but...
Yeah, I think that being really clear about what actually needs doing is super important. Because depending on what we're talking about being difficult, sometimes only time's going to make it better. In as much as it gets better, some things need other things to change or we don't have control of.
I remember when... probably 10 years ago now, two of my brothers passed away within six weeks of each other. It was rough. But one of the things that really moved forward for me was... going and getting therapy and getting attention on it, absolutely. But that's the longterm process. The short term stuff was I had a six-month old kid, and I had a two-and-a-half year old, and I had a dog at the time. It was like, all right, dogs got to be walked, kid needs to do the thing. Got it.
As much as it sucked and I wanted to do nothing, I didn't really have that opportunity. In looking at my journey through it... And you can't compare yourself and other people because there are lots of factors. But looking at my journey through it and the journey of people who had a lot of free time on their hands or it didn't have a lot of structure, those people seemed to suffer longer, suffer more deeply, have more difficulty moving past it.
I think that the idea of sitting in stuff is really not helpful. We can feel like, "Are we processing? Are we doing work on it? Whatever." But one of the things I often say to people is, I'm like, "If there's not an event on your calendar that you're working on a thing, then you're probably not really working on it that much." That might just be like, "I'm going to go and journal with the cards. That might be therapy, it might be whatever." But if you're just around and ruminating, it's not necessarily moving anywhere with things. Again, depending on what we're talking about.
Well, the one thing I would add to that is when the world is really taking a shit, when there's something bad going on, like an election you don't like, or like the virus spreading or anything really hard, the one thing I always remind people... And I remind my kids this all the time too, because my kids are very political, of course, as young millennials there... that life goes on. The most horrible things are always happening in the world. It's not like it's just now. There's always some horrible things happening in the world, but people still... at the end of the day, they rebuild. They go down and get coffee, they get their kids to school.
Ultimately, we're all still doing the day-to-day things. Even when horrible things are going on, life does go on. And so, we have to put things in perspective because it's so often we can really feel like down and out, especially when bad things are happening in the world. And the world always goes on.
One of the things I always say to my daughter is, because she's a worrier and she'll say stuff like, "Well, what if we have a nuclear war?" And I'm like, "Well, if we do, the world will still go on. Nature will still go on." Nature is amazing. So, we have to really be, not just in the present moment but not thinking that everything is ending right now. If the stock market crashes or if something happens, life will always go on. Life has always gone on with horrible Wars and terrible things happening in the world. So, we do have to remember that.
I think that really gets to the heart of this idea that troubled times or difficult situations is... I don't want to... It's weird to say, but they're not necessarily bad. It's just part of the process. I think that we have, again, this idea that things should be easy, and flowing, and moving. I think that that's part of our society. We've really been inundated by this idea that we can curate our lives in a way that everything is just happy and wonderful. And if it's not, then something is wrong.
I think that actually gets into how we, as magical people, practice. Because I think a lot of times when you're a person who does spell work, or if you're a person who does Tarot, or works with crystals, you think, "Well, I need to be doing all of these different things to be combating what's happening in the world, or to be making my life better.
And sometimes it really is as simple as just sitting, meditating. My mantra for this year is surrender. That's my word. Just surrendering, surrendering to what's happening, surrendering to what I'm feeling, and even surrendering to what I'm not capable of doing. Some of that has looked like me simplifying my practice. So, rather than doing elaborate spells or ceremonies, it's just lighting a white candle and just being with that. Or instead of having all my millions of crystals everywhere, it's like I just have these simple prayer beads that I'm carrying with me.
I think that's just as powerful and effective as anything else that could be complex or elaborate. I think sometimes we need that when the world is feeling crazy, or when it's feeling just... like it's weighing on you.
I have a question for you. A couple of times you've brought up this idea of not everything can be easy or maybe even good, whatever that means, positive, as we desire. But that that doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong. I'm wondering, how do you know? How do you differentiate between there being something wrong versus the stress intention of just living in the world at times, that we just have to abide.
I think it comes down to how you use that information. I think that... Again, going back to what Theresa is talking about, how a lot of times we want to numb out when we're experiencing something difficult. I think in Tarot for Troubled Times, we talk about this, how our difficult experiences are trying to give us insight about who we are, or what's happening inside of us or around us.
I think that rather than looking at that as good or bad, you can say, "Okay, well this is difficult, or this doesn't feel good." But how are you using that information? How is that moving you forward? Just like pain in your body. Not that illness or pain is a good thing, but it's letting you know that something needs to be acknowledged and addressed. And so, in that way, it is a positive.
And so, I really think that's what it comes down to. How are you using that information? Think about it in regards to working with someone in a Tarot session or in a reading, every piece of information isn't going to be positive and uplifting. But if you present it in a way and if you hold space for that person in a way that they can use that to move forward, then it does become something positive.
Well, and the other thing too that we have to remember is oftentimes what we really want to do is hold on to all the good stuff. We'll hold on to that. We get very, very hung up on that. I tend to be very neutral. There's that old fable where the king is given the ring that says, 'This too shall pass,' and that's how he finds joy. If we are present with whatever is and not getting attached to the great things or the bad things in our life, and being more neutral in the face of both, I think that often does really lead to a lot more contentment no matter what's going on in your life or in the world.
I agree with that.
Don't get me wrong, I like to hang on to good thing, so this is a practice of mine. But I'm always trying to like not go like, "Oh, my God, I just wish things were like blah, blah, blah." I still have moments where I get really angry. You guys saw me earlier. I have my moments where I get mad, I get perturbed. And then I catch myself, I recenter myself, and I'm like, "Okay, how can I just be present? How can I be neutral right now? What can I do in this situation? Is it a situation where I can turn things around? Do I need to ask for help?"
Sometimes there's [inaudible 00:15:19] where people are... they're in a situation that's very difficult that you can't just wish it away either, or people who are in really deeply oppressed situations. Finding a way to ask for help is sometimes the biggest thing that you can do.
I think that is such a powerful thing, asking for help. And for me, that's part of this whole mantra of surrendering. I feel like, again, we live in this society that perpetuates independence. Asking for help isn't seen as a sexy thing. And yet, it's still important, especially in the global climate that we're in because we need to be cultivating a sense of society and connectedness, and holding space for each other. I think asking for help is part of that.
Asking for help can be something big or small. It doesn't have to be a really complex thing. But oftentimes, I think that's why people come to a Tarot reading. They want insight, they want clarity. In some ways, they want help and permission, even, to think, feel, and do whatever it is that they're feeling called to do. And to me, I think that's such a powerful step for people.
And I think that one of the... Apparently, this is the episode where I talk about all the hard things that have gone on in my life.
Let them out.
People who listen to the podcast and lots of people already know, last year, in March, my store burned down. It's one of those things where it absolutely became a time where, A, I asked for help. And I got to experience the positive response of all the people who felt that I had helped them in the past and I had a connection with. And so, I think that one of the things that's helpful around living in the world is building a sense of connection, and working to be in community, and working to give and share and be there for other people, again, within healthy boundaries.
There are lots of people who also have a really problematic sides to that where they just give and give and give to people who aren't there for them. But yeah, asking for help is certainly important. I think that understanding that we're all in it together... It doesn't feel that way, especially when we get into politics sometimes. But at a certain point, noticing that at least within our communities, we're all in it together, and being really aware of that as a way of moving things forward for yourself.
Because a lot of people struggle to accept help, and being aware of... Because I had that moment, I'm like, "Well whatever, look at all these people who are giving me money, whatever." These people are spending time with at the time where like, "Well, dude, how many times if you thrown some money into a GoFundMe or shown up for somebody or whatever? Of course, you get it back. That's how it goes." But I think it's important to think of if we're not in need right now to recognize that we might be, and to think about how we want to be in the world, and how we would like people to be with us in reciprocation.
I feel like sometimes people want to help us, and because we haven't asked for help, they don't know if they can. And so, I think there's that two-way street of giving and receiving, and saying whatever it is you need. When you were talking about how we're all in this together, sometimes it doesn't feel that way.
You're talking about your store burning down. There's probably a moment where you felt like, "Well, this is just me. It's my store, it burned down. No one else understands what that feels like." But then when you ask for that help, you get to see how interconnected you are with other people, and how you have influenced them and helped them through your store, through your... just through who you are. I think we all have those kind of connections with people.
I was just talking to a friend the other day about going to the doctor, and how they didn't want to talk to their doctor about certain things because they felt ashamed or vulnerable. And I'm like, your doctor is there to help you. Regardless of what certain people think about medicine or whatever, your doctor is there to help you. And if you're going to the doctor for something, they can only help you as much as you're willing to allow them to. And so, in that way, you're in it together.
Yeah. Well, I think that's actually a perfect example of how do you know when something's wrong? So, your doctor and you are in it together, which is fantastic, unless they're not. That's one of those things. If your experience of your doctor is that they're a bit fat-phobic or they're not sex positive, and so you don't feel comfortable talking about a thing or whatever, well, there's a perfect example of, huh, that's a thing that's in them, you can't fix that. It's not your job to fix that.
Again, it's complicated sometimes to find a new doctor, but that's where maybe making that kind of change or finding a different resource can be really helpful too. Because I think that that discomfort, I think it's... if it's in us, then absolutely working through that is fantastic, and helps us become clear and more open and so on.
I know in Toronto, we have a hassle-free clinic for STI testing. And there's doctors, some people, and whatever. They're not great about those things. So, for any number of reasons, people might choose to go to a different resource for that. I think that that's really good, taking care of ourselves as well when we can notice those things. We don't want to talk to this friend about this because they're not great about it, or our parents, or a coworker, whoever. Noticing that problem that's not ours to fix and saying, "Huh, I'm going to go somewhere where I can actually get the support I need."
I think that's also an important piece to this is that you have to know who you're asking for help, or where you're getting your nourishment and your support from. Well, first of all, the other thing I wanted to say... And I talk about this all the time with clients and online... is that I think our secret power, everyone's secret power is the power of choice. We all have the ability to make a choice about something.
Now, I think that that varies depending on who you are and where you're at in the world. But we all have the power to make a choice. And just like you were saying, if you're in a situation like your doctor isn't someone that you're comfortable with, you can look for something else. But I also feel like, oftentimes, we lean into support that's not really supportive.
I know all three of us work with clients privately, and a lot of times when I'm working with someone, they're coming to me and talking about things that they feel like they can't talk to anyone else about it, or no one else will really hear them objectively and allow them to process what they're going through. And we all need that safe space and that support. So, find a good Tarot reader.
And a great Tarot reader, yes. Well, I think some people feel bad. I've heard people say to me that they feel bad they don't have any friends, and they have to pay someone to listen to their problems. I think that... My experience is I've gone to therapy at different points. I was talking about after my brother's death, I did a whole bunch of counseling, and so on, for a long period of time. I think that depending on what's going on in our lives, depending on what the nature of our challenges are, maybe our friends aren't even the best people or even helpful necessarily. Not out of malice or whatever, but out of lack of objectivity, out of lack of skill, out of lack of having slack for some topics, for any number of reasons.
And that doesn't mean that we can't be friends with them or talk about certain levels of problems with them, but there are often those things that are bigger, deeper, more private, or that other people just don't have any experience with. And finding those people who can actually connect with that makes a ton of sense, and ends up being way more effective or efficient and moving things forward.
Because when we're caught up with wobbling back and forth with people that we know personally around stuff, maybe we hedge our words, maybe we're not as direct, maybe we are concerned what comes from that or what they think of us. Whereas, "I certainly hope that people come see me," or like, "I don't care what he thinks about me, I'm just going to come and get what I need from it." And in that sense, I think that's really important.
I always tell my clients like, "This is the safe zone, and we can talk about anything and everything." I love it when I have a client who tells me... not really a dirty little secret, but something that they wouldn't say anywhere else. I have clients who, all the time, will say, "I've never said that out loud before." As a reader, you hear it all, and so there's nothing that's really shocking, or at least for me, there's not. I want people to have that experience.
Now, something that I've been thinking about lately, and I think both of you would have insight around this, is when you are in a position where you're helping people, you're guiding people... And that could be professionally or it could be personally, like as a parent or something. What happens when you feel like you need help? How do you open up around that? And I think that's something a lot of people maybe feel difficulty around, or they struggle with. What are your guys' thoughts about that?
One of the things that I'll throw out there as just an initial thought then I want to hear what Theresa has to say, I came across this little graphic about the idea of pouring support in towards the center of the series of concentric circles, and reaching for support outward. And so, the idea is like, if it's in the middle, we have the person who needs our help, who is asking us for help. That could be our kids, that could be a coworker, it could be whatever, friend. The idea that if something they're asking us for causes us to need or want assistance around something, we don't lean on that person who's in the middle, the person who came to us with their need. It's not their job to fix our feelings to their requests. We need to find a way to reach further to people who are not that person, and so on down the line.
I think that that's often where there's a complication that happens where people reach back to the person who asked and try and get them to help them be okay so that they can give them the help that they're asking for. That's a really problematic model. One of the things I think is super important is when we do need help, making sure that we're choosing directions that don't make things more difficult for the person that we're... like with kids, already committed to helping in some way or other. What do you think Theresa?
Oh, I agree 100%. I also think if you have sources of support around you, you're going to... You should always build up your support system. You should build up your own support system so that if you are in a situation where you are trying to help somebody else out, and you are feeling overwhelmed or some type of way about it, that you have other places that you can go, or other places that you can send that person.
Because sometimes it's... With my daughter, for example, she has a therapist, so does my son because sometimes talking to mom isn't really helpful because they're going to get the mom perspective. So, they know when to do that. I know how I process information for myself. I tend to be very, very private when I am dealing with any situation. I know that when I'm feeling also overwhelmed or something's going on, I often have to tell the people that I love to give me space. I have to request that space. So, you have to really figure out what kind of support you need, what kind of support you can give. I guess you just have to be willing to be upfront about it.
Theresa, something that you do that I really love is you're very open about things that are happening in your world. You're not just open with people who are in your inner circle, but you talk about things that are happening in your world, in your business online. What do you feel prompts that? How do you feel like that helps you? That's something I love about you. How do you feel like that helps you, and how do you feel that helps other people?
Well, first of all, always... I'm a Gemini. Geminis love to talk things out. Even though my moon in Scorpio wants the real private stuff to be worked out, but I'm pretty much an open book on a lot of things. I like to talk about it because it helps me to process things, or I write about it. And the other thing that I find, when I talk about it or write about it, it helps other people. Sometimes that helps them to know, "I'm not alone." And therefore, then they reach back, and I'm like, "Oh, I'm not alone either." So, we kind of... In a really weird way, it's like it's a way to show other people, "Look, you're not the only one dealing with this bullshit right now. I am too." So, we end up, ultimately, helping each other out.
I think it's important to talk about things too. Sometimes my husband is like, "That's TMI. Why are you talking about that?" And I'm like, "But it's something to talk about. Why am I supposed to put on an Instagram filter and pretend everything's great? If something's going on, let me share it." But also, when something great is going on, let's share that too. I just think it really helps people to see, again, they're not alone, and that I'm not some glossy, fancy, everything is perfect in my life person because it's not, and I don't think anybody's life is like that.
No, for sure. I also think it... One of my things I've experienced is we also get to decide what our narrative is around stuff. And this is one of the challenges around sharing stuff online. When the fire happened, there were definitely people who were like, "Oh, this happened for a reason, and it's all going to be better and whatever." I was basically like, "Fuck that, fuck off. I don't have time for that."
And whatever might be true in that idea, I've never found it helpful. Because at a certain point, things that have been good that have come out of the change that happened came because I worked with the complete disruption and leaned into it, and then made a lot of decisions and did a lot of work around it. But there's a way in which people will put their agendas or put their ideas forward in a way that really makes it about what seems true to them or what suits them in situations.
And the thing that suits me in situations is going, "All right, shit just got real. What do I do?" It's not defined plan or other things, maybe whatever, time will tell. But for me it's like, "Okay, what can I do practically? What could I do spiritually? What can I do to move forward from this place?"
The thing about social media is it is a lot of people who will come on to stuff and nudge it in their directions and so on. I think it's really important to understand that our stories are ours, our experiences are ours. And we get to decide what that is, and shut things down. If we're talking about social media, just tell people, no thanks, delete the post, delete the comments, whatever. But that we're not obliged to live in somebody else's stories, ever. And most especially when we're going through hard times, it makes no sense to allow other people to control the direction where we're building our stories that get us through these things.
Yeah. I think that is such a difficult thing, not only on social media, but even more so in real life, especially with family. I feel like a lot of times those are the things that clients struggle with when I'm working with people where their perspective, or their experience, or the choices that they are making or would like to make are not in alignment with the people around them. And so, then that makes them feel... Going back to what we were talking about in the very beginning, like they're maybe moving in the wrong direction. It's like, well, is it the wrong direction or is it just a different direction than what other people are expecting of you?
I love what you talked about about constructing your own narrative because I think that's what life is. We're all telling our own stories. It's not as simple as we get to make it whatever we want it to be, but we do get to allow certain things to fly in our personal worlds. You can always... One of my favorite things is you can always kick people out of your life, whether it seems easy or not.
Yeah. Let's talk about that more. How about kicking people out of our lives?
Yeah. For me, I think boundaries are so, so, so essential. I think kicking people out of your life doesn't always have to be a dramatic thing. Sometimes it's simple as you just fade away or disengage. I've had a lot of people recently talk about... And I don't know why this keeps coming up, but it's just in random conversation. But I keep hearing people say, "You have to pick your battles." That's a saying people say all the time.
But I've been hearing it a lot more, and I think that's interesting because I agree with that. There are certain things that you can fight and they can make a difference. And then, there are certain things that you just have to disengage with. I think people are a perfect example of that.
If you have a difficult family member and you feel like you're never going to get through to them, or they're never going to see your perspective, or see you, don't try to convince them. Maybe it's time to move on. Yeah, I don't know. I think that just having the permission to be able to say, "Oh, I don't have to have people in my life. I don't want them to be in my life," is really important for people. And it's very difficult at the same time.
I will say one thing. One of the biggest forms of self-care are boundaries. We need boundaries. Boundaries teach people how we want to be treated. At the same token, we have to also honor other people's boundaries. And I'll tell you one thing, when you have adult children, you learn a lot about their boundaries too and about how to honor it. I always say, "If you want to get along with your adult children, one of the most important things is to learn to shut your mouth." So, it's very interesting. The roles really change.
But boundaries are... again, they're a form of self-care. They're so, so, so important in every aspect of your life. And I think so often... I can say especially as a woman, women are taught we're supposed to be nice, we're supposed to smile. You've got to be kind, and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And especially women from my generation, that's what we were taught. And when you speak up and say, "No, I'm not doing this, uh-uh (negative)," you're a bitch. And it feels very scary to do that.
But learning to say no and learning to say, "I'm not doing that, I don't like this," it's really empowering for you. It is going to help you deal with things in your life a lot better when you have those boundaries. Like Shaheen said, sometimes you've got to kick people out of your life, absolutely. Some people do not belong in your life. If they are constantly violating your boundaries, if they are pushing past it, if they want exceptions to everything, that means they do not respect your no. And they've got to go. They've got to go.
Yeah. People ask for exceptions.
I hate that.
As a person who runs a store, there are people who will ask for discounts, or ask for this or that or whatever, those kinds of things. People come in and be like, "Oh, but I'm such a good client. I'm such whatever, whatever." And then, the next is, "Oh, don't you have this anymore?" I'm like, "Well, no, I haven't had that for a year, so that means I haven't seen you for a year. So, you're here asking me for a discount, but I haven't seen you in forever." Those kinds of exceptions, I think, are really not ideal.
I think that we get to decide. It's up to us to offer the exception. That's how I think about things. It's like, well, if I'm available for something different, cool. But otherwise, especially professionally, it's like those boundaries are there for a reason.
When it comes to people in my life, one of the things that... a conversation I have with clients a lot is... because they don't necessarily want to go to a person and be like, "I can't be friends anymore. We're done." And that's a hard thing to have. Sometimes you need to have that conversation. Sometimes there's no way around it. But I also think about the idea of nudging people out of our orbits a bit.
So, we can take space in a lot of different ways. We can knock it back to them right away. We cannot always answer the phone when they call. We can be like, "Oh, I'm busy. I'll call you tomorrow." We can start nudging people and be like, "Well, they want to see me every week, but let's see how every other week goes. Let's see how once a month is. I'm happy seeing my family at Christmas and other holidays." All the way up to nothing. But that process allows us to find what feels good to us, and find what they're still available for because they might also be like, "I don't see you enough. I'm not going to reciprocate either." But either way, it finds the answer for us, it finds what feels okay. Hopefully, it feels good.
But maybe bypasses some of that confrontational that people think about boundaries. Where people think you need to be like, "Look, I don't like you anymore. We're done." I've had a few friends over the years who did something like that. I was like, "Really? Wow. So dramatic. So funny." [crosstalk 00:41:11].
But can I just tell you one thing about the dramatic thing?
Yes, tell us everything about the dramatic thing.
I have found that if I don't get dramatic, I don't get respect. So, sometimes I have to be a stone cold bitch. You guys know me, I'm a pussy cat. I'm really easy going, I'm happy-go-lucky. I love to have a good, I love a good meal. I like gossip and stuff like that. I'm very, very easy going. I've got a great sense of humor. And so, I think then that people just assume, "Oh, blah, blah blah. She's going to make an exception for me." And if I say no, then they'll think I'm bluffing.
But when I'm a hardcore bitch, you better believe they get out of my way then. I hate that because you know what, I don't like having to be like that. But sometimes that seems that's the only way that I get results. It sucks.
I think that personality and temperament are part of it. I think that gender is absolutely a part of it. It's a conversation that I hear a lot more from people who are on the female side of the equation. Definitely those things are real.
Another thing that, at least for me, has been true is, you don't always have to explain yourself.
Exactly. That's a hard one for me.
Yeah. And that's a really beautiful thing once you let that come into your being, into your worldview, is that you don't have to explain yourself as long as your actions or the things that you're moving toward feel really just aligned with you. And that sometimes can be a tricky thing to figure out as well, but I feel like not having to explain yourself saves people a lot of trouble.
I loved what you were talking about, pushing people slowly out of your orbit. It's like you don't have to go to your shitty uncle and be like, "I don't want to see you anymore." You can just slowly push them away. You don't have to explain it. You don't have to justify it. I think that's very liberating for people, for any kind of choice that you're making.
Absolutely. It's interesting because I took a class with Randi Buckley called Healthy Boundaries for Kind People. And one of the things that she also talked about too was not explaining yourself. And I'm an explainer because I'm a talker. And I'm like, "Look, this is why I'm not doing that." And I'm like, "Why am I doing that?" It's really hard to break that habit of explaining. When you explain, what ends up happening then with boundaries, then people look for an out.
I was to say, yeah, they look for a weak spot in that boundary.
And they find it, and they'll say, "Well, but I'm not a jerk. Why not make an exception for me?" So, it's really interesting. Not explaining, that's really great that you brought that up. That also, again, is also a form of self-care.
Reminds me of that salesperson maxim: if we're still talking, you haven't actually said no yet. I think there are people who live their life that way. If there's still a conversation, then it's not actually a solid boundary. And sometimes, you just got to close that door and be like, "Don't stick your foot in the door, salesman. I'm going to slam the door. We're done. Get out." And that's it.
I think that's why... to me, that's why Tarot is such a powerful thing because sometimes we don't even realize that we're still having that conversation, that we're still engaging in certain dynamics. We feel the effects of it, but we don't realize why we feel that way because maybe it's subconscious, or maybe it's just so common in your life that you just don't even know that that's happening anymore. I think Tarot is beautiful because you can zoom out, and you can see these things.
And one of the things I love when I'm laying out cards, when I'm working with someone in-person, which isn't all that often, but when I do, if a person sees a card and they're like, "Oh, that's so and so in my life." And it's like they might not have any knowledge about it, about that card or what the symbolism is, or anything, but just seeing that gives them the sense of, "Oh, I have externalized, and I can understand the bigger picture of what's happening. And now I can do something with it."
To me, I think, that, again, goes back to being able to make a choice. When you know what all is happening from a larger perspective and you're not right in the thick of it, then you have a bit more power to make a choice, or to pivot, or to go in a certain direction with deeper intention.
Well, what about spiritually? Are there spiritual practices that you do around this kind of stuff? What do you do to sustain yourself during challenging times?
Meditation and yoga are my two go-to things because I know when I'm on the mat and I'm moving my body, or I'm sitting quietly and tuning within, that always makes me feel better. It may not solve the problem, and oftentimes it doesn't solve the problem, but I'm feeling physically better. I'm going within, I'm processing information. So, that is always my favorite, favorite things to turn to. But there's all kinds of other things. You can do magical practices and rituals, that can also enhance and strengthen your boundaries, or energy, or whatever you want to say. That can also help you to move through any kind of challenges.
Yeah. For me, well, yoga is actually a big part of my practice as well. And the thing that I love about yoga is that you have to be present, you have to be... You don't have to be, but you know as soon as you slip out of what you're doing, your pose or whatever it is that you're... whatever asana you're in, that's not going to flow or to work. So, I love movement in general for grounding, and centering, and getting present.
Ritual is a big part of what I do. And again, it can be as simple as just lighting a candle. One of the things I talk with clients about quite a bit, it's just the simple practice of using ritual and ceremony as a way to engage all the parts of yourself. So, if you light a candle and you say, "This is the shitty situation I'm in, and as this candle is melting, my situation is melting away." That might not change everything, but it makes you feel like you have a bit of control, or you can externalize what it is that you're feeling. And I think seeing that and engaging with that, that moves energy.
Or if you light a candle and you say, "As this candle is burning, whatever it is that I need to bring in my life is attracted to it. It's like a moth to a flame." Again, that engages another part of yourself and allows that energy to move toward you. I think that gives... for me, that gives me a way of finding... I don't want to say control, but feeling like I have a choice in the matter.
I also really lean into my spirit allies. I have multiple spirits that I work with. But one of the things that I like to do is I just say, "To my guardians, my ancestors and angels, be with me. I thank you for being with me." And I give offerings, or I light candles. Something about that practice makes me feel supported, it makes me feel like I'm not alone. Something out there has a broader perspective than I do, and can maybe see something that I can't see.
I was listening to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert and Oprah, and Liz Gil was talking about how when her partner died, she felt like she suddenly had a very powerful ambassador on the other side. And when she said that, that really resonated with me. Because I feel like we all have somebody who... whether we've known them in life or we just feel a very special connection to, there's something bigger than us that's out there. And if we engage with that, we feel less alone, and we also can use that energy to move forward.
I moved to Colorado recently, and I've always felt a connection to the Virgin Mary. I wasn't raised Christian at all, but I've just always felt a connection to the Virgin Mary. There's a place called Mother Cabrini Shrine, and it's near where I live. Mother Cabrini was the first American Saint. But I go there all the time to just light candles and to meditate because I feel like I'm connecting with something bigger than myself. Not just the energy of the Virgin Mary or Mother Mary, but also the energy of other people who have gone there out of faith. And even though it's very different than mine, there's an energy that accumulates there. And so, I'm constantly trying to work with that, if that makes sense.
Yeah, totally does. I'm just going to put an unpopular opinion right now. I hate yoga. I hate yoga so much. Yoga was just makes me [crosstalk 00:51:46].
You haven't done yoga with me.
Why do you hate it?
I've done yoga all over the world with so many different teachers, and it just makes me grumpy whenever I do it. So, I've given up doing yoga. I did yoga practice daily for over a year and so on. And this notion that I would push through and like asana-based yoga practice, well, it's just never happened. So, I've given up on it.
And now you know.
And now I know. But the thing that I... I love meditation. I'm very good at just sitting and meditating for relatively long periods of time. I love elements of yoga. I love the breath work and other things. But just yoga class and those things, I always just leave grumpier than when I arrived. So, I've given up on it.
You should take a class with me.
Well, I will make the trip, and then you could buy me a coffee afterwards if I'm grumpy.
It will change your mind because-
... our yoga classes are very different here.
That's okay. But for me, it's not just about being more active because there are lots of ways in which I do self-care that's very still and very quiet as well. But also, I super love rock climbing, and rock climbing is one of my favorite self-care, especially during challenging times because when I'm on the wall and working on a problem, I can't think about anything else. There's nothing else. There's just the immediacy of it. And it's the same with distance cycling and stuff.
Yeah, my brain might churn for the first 20 minutes or hour, but into a three-hour ride, at a certain point, it's just you, and the road, and the movement of your body, and the flowing of other things, and that's it. And so, I think that there are lots of active ways in which we could do that that are not numbing out and avoiding things, but are bringing us to being present through different mechanisms.
I think another important thing for people to know is that self-care and spirituality doesn't have to look a certain way. One of my favorite spiritual practices is singing, whether that's getting wild on my guitar or going to karaoke. It's not really a numbing out thing. It's like I get to not be in the mire of everything that's happening, and I get to connect with myself.
There's something really beautiful about that. But I think a lot of times, especially when people are starting their spiritual journey or their magical journey, they get caught up in what does that look like? And it's like if you feel like turn it on heavy metal and head banging for an hour is grounding and centering to you, then that's totally fine. That doesn't have to be the case for anybody else. So, I think it comes down to, are you connecting with yourself, or are you numbing out? I guess that's a big question.
It's a huge question.
The other thing that I wonder sometimes... Because I think with our book Tarot for Troubled Times, we've had multiple people ask us... or talk in the sense that they need to get rid of their shadow because we talk about shadow work. One of the things that I feel is that we aren't trying to... Where was I going with that? We aren't trying to, I guess, fix things necessarily. It's really just about being where you are, being with what is happening. I think that's where our spiritual practice can really lie. Being with where you are. I don't know. When we're talking about numbing out, I wonder is there a time where numbing out is okay? Is that always a bad thing?
Numbing out once in a while is okay. Absolutely. Sometimes at the end of the day, if I've had a really challenging day, let's say with clients, pouring myself a nice big glass of wine and putting on the new Pope, which is the new thing that I'm into right now, and just forgetting about it. Having a little escape is good. Provided it's not done too excess. There has to be a limit. Numbing out in front of the TV every single night drinking three glasses of wine is not good. But on occasion, just sitting back... And that's one of my favorite ways to unwind is a nice glass of wine and something on TV.
I think if you check in with yourself and ask yourself, "How do I feel?" That can gauge if that's useful or not for you. Sometimes when I'm really, really, really going through it... I always suggest this to people... I take a nap. I get in my bed and I take a nap because I'm like, "You know what, I can't do anything by thinking about this or talking about it. So, I'm going to get in my bed, I'm going to take a nap, and something will happen. The world will at least keep on moving. Maybe my thoughts will untangle. Maybe the spirits will give me a message. I don't know. But I'm just going to take a nap."
But when I wake up from that, I don't feel like I've lost time. I feel like something has happened in the positive versus if you go on a binge and you're out drinking all night long, the next day you probably don't feel like anything's resolved. And so, I think checking in with yourself and asking, how does this make me feel, is really an important part of it as well.
How do we feel when we're starting it? How do we feel when we're in it? How do we feel afterwards? Because it might feel great, speaking from personal experience, to grab that bucket of ice cream and to eat that bucket of ice cream, and then it might feel crappy afterwards. And so, I think that there's that just monitoring of the whole situation. Eating two liters of ice cream is not a great coping mechanism for me, and so I no longer engage that. But that doesn't mean that I won't buy myself other things or engage in other ways like that, right?
I think that's a beautiful... just continue... Really, it all comes down to connecting with yourself. I think, in a lot of ways, we just don't live in a world that really advocates for people to know how they feel and to connect with themselves, and to take care of themselves. We're really taught to be out here in the world doing things, competing with things, keeping up with things. I think it can be really toxic.
Actually, I had a conversation recently about how I think that... I love the idea of self-care, but I think that this concept of wholeness is the new idea of perfection. I think that self-care, and spirituality, and self-work, and healing work isn't about becoming whole or fixed or better. It's about really just connecting with and having a relationship with yourself so that you know where you are in every moment, situation, or experience. And then, that way, you can make choices or you can have boundaries. That's how you empower yourself. It's not always easy, but that's why it's a practice.
Yeah. I think you've just summed it up perfectly.
So, maybe that's a great place to leave it. I'm going to say, when you listen to this, rewind and listen to what Shaheen said a couple of times because I think that's just really a delightful and perfect way to encapsulate it. Obviously, you folks have a lovely book. I think people should check it, called Tarot for Troubled Times. Shaheen, where do people find you if they want to come be in your orbits online?
You can find me at my website, which is shaheenmiroinsights.com. Or you can visit me on Instagram, which my handle is Shaheenthedream, and that's one of my favorite places to hang out and do all sorts of magical things over there. And on Facebook and Twitter. So, Shaheen Miro, there's only one of me out there.
Perfect. Theresa, at The Tarot Lady everywhere?
Yup, thetarotlady.com, and The Tarot Lady is my handle on all my social media things.
Beautiful. Well, thank you both for making time today. I super appreciate it. It's been-
... as delightful as I was hoping.
Thank you for having us.
Friday Jan 31, 2020
Friday Jan 31, 2020
Friday Jan 31, 2020
The gang get back together in their secret underground bunker to talk about what is new in their journeys. Andrew, Aidan, and Fabeku talk about the future of witchcraft, magic, grimoires, and how to best powder a scorpion. In a rarer moment they talk about their businesses and how they find their way forward through changing desires and capacities around working.
They also recorded a bonus for the Patreon only about how to connect with plants and build a magical relationship with them. You can get it here by becoming a supporter.
Aidan can be found here.
Fabeku hangs here.
As always Andrew is here.
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.
Andrew: Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am hanging out today with Stacking Skulls, which would be my buddies, Fabeku and Aidan. We have taken submarine to our secret underground bunker. We have concocted all sorts of beverages to prop us up for this from weird poisons from some lizards and reptiles and obscure sea fish. And we have found the long lost grimmer of the monkey safe nests, which we have properly venerated before we're going to start here.
Aidan: I [inaudible 00:00:42].
Andrew: Welcome to the podcast. This is a fairly regular thing that we've been doing for a while with different guests as well as one last founding member, John. And today we're getting together for the first time in quite a while, just the three of us to catch up and talk about stuff that's going on. So I'm going to skip the introductions.
Andrew: If people don't know who we are, well, go back and listen to one of the other episodes. But what's going on? What's new? What's happening? What's changed? We recorded last, I would say it was just after the fire, so I think that was early, middle of summer, somewhere around there. It was the last time we talked, which is about six months ago. So this is recording.
Aidan: Well, other than rating Monkey Island for the [inaudible 00:01:38], it's all been smoking scorpions, but it's just been … it's good. It's been crazy times. End of the year is always crazy.
Aidan: I'm married to an accountant who's also somewhat clairvoyant. So there's this combination of stuff that begins before the end of the year that is … we are kind of shifting a full year ahead or two years out. So we run on a two-year plan at this point. And so it's just working that stuff out and deciding what the focuses are going to be for that time period as best as we can, knowing that things change.
Aidan: But what are the targets? What are the time frames? Can we plan that enough that we can plan in some downtime? And then for me, it's kind of backing away from the jewelry work for a while to focus on teaching and writing. So that's the big one for me.
Andrew: How's the preparation for teaching going? I mean, I've seen some on social media, but what's that like for you?
Aidan: It's been pretty crazy because I decided that I really wanted audio. Video was too cumbersome to try and share, I thought, and I wanted people to be able to listen to it in different places where they didn't necessarily have rock-solid internet. And so it was a weird process.
Aidan: So I started recording before I was ready, which was good, so that broke me in a little bit, but it's a different way of transmitting. And so it's been very interesting figuring that out. But I like what's coming along and the allies like what's coming along. And they got, as usual with projects, way, way, way more involved than I somehow expect, so there's a lot of that shaping influence in there that is how do I work in.
Aidan: “Okay. Since you're only going to give me a quarter of the curriculum, how do I make it? Either give it all to me or stay out,” is what I would like to say in some ways. But it is good, but it is okay, so if that's taken over these two sections of the class, what else are we going to run in a limited timeframe. But it's fun. It's been very fun.
Andrew: It's awesome. Yeah. I really did teaching a lot. I think … I mean, I know Fabeku does too, right?
Aidan: Yeah, for sure.
Andrew: Yeah. How about you? What's going on with you, Fabeku?
Fabeku: Let's see. Yes. End of year, I pretended that I was taking December off and then had the busiest December I've had in any year. So not so much of a break, but it was mostly busy with good stuff, which was good.
Fabeku: Yeah. I mean, kind of similar to Aidan, looking at the next couple of years and figuring out what it looks like and what I want to do more of and what I want to do less of and definitely continuing to shift more and more to the teaching, the writing, the arts, a lot of art. That's my question at this point.
Fabeku: How do I do more arts is the big $64,000 question. And this might be the year that I actually do a website for the arts, maybe. I've resisted that for years for all kinds of reasons, but yeah. So that might be a thing. But-
Andrew: Given you haven't updated your website since 1842, I'm not sure-
Fabeku: Right. Exactly.
Andrew: … I'm not sure I believe you at that point.
Fabeku: Yeah, that's the running joke. I've got the out-of-date website on the planet. Yeah, that's the truth. Yeah. So just tons of art stuff, which has been good. I carved out some more time in the schedule this year to finish the book projects that I stalled at the end of the year between busy-ness and health stuff and I needed to get a new laptop and some other shifts.
Fabeku: But yeah, so I'm excited about that and just looking forward to, like said, more teaching, more art.
Aidan: How are you doing Andrew? What do you got going on? I know that you've got the shop open in your space, so how's that going?
Andrew: So much is going on right now. So much is going on. I actually took 10 days off over the holidays, which is the first holiday that I've had in forever where I didn't go anywhere or really do anything. I checked a few emails, but that was about it. And I took a bath every day, took a nap every day, really just tried to sink into that.
Andrew: I read a bunch and stuff like that. And I went from feeling exhausted from having reopened the store and rubbed my life through the fall to just feeling tired. So I feel like that's a major way, right?
Fabeku: For sure.
Andrew: The store is going good. It's reopened in a different neighborhood and I'm still wrangling with that. A lot of the same clients of course, but lots of different people. One of the things that's been sort of challenging me about it lately is trying to account for theft as part of the process. Right?
Andrew: And it's just like it's almost every retailer tells me and knows it's just a part of the deal. But in the old location, the combination of the size of the store and its location really minimized that stuff, whereas now, it's definitely a thing that I'm paying a lot of attention to. And I feel a bit like it's kind of a metaphor.
Andrew: I mean, it's obviously a literal problem, but I'm viewing it a bit metaphorically for how I'm doing that longer-term planning that both of you guys are talking about. Right? I don't want to be tired. I don't want to get back to being exhausted. I don't want to feel like I'm endlessly running around from thing to thing and I can't get ahead of the Arkin and so on.
Andrew: And so really, looking at what's making sense in terms of my energy and my attention, I absolutely love having the studio. I have this private studio space, which is beautiful. It's like 300-square feet. It's got a lovely set facing window and high ceilings and it's a five-minute walk from my house.
Andrew: So basically, I have no excuse to not come and paints and draw and come see clients here and so on. It's just really welcoming and lovely. And just looking at where are those things that are stealing my energy, that are stealing my attention? Where are those things where I'm not enthused to show a [inaudible 00:08:46] them and where are those things or what's getting in the way of the things that I'm saying I'm going to be doing, like painting every day or whatever.
Andrew: What's actually interfering with that and what can I do to adjust that? Where do I make that space emotionally more than any other way? Because practically, the time is there, but emotionally, it's not always there to continue to work on my next book, to wrap up this bacon wizard breakfast Oracle that I'm working on, all those things, right? They all have a drag on them from the tensions in the system.
Andrew: And I was talking before we got on the line here about how I rolled back my coffee consumption from ridiculous levels of caffeine and sugar to a manageable level. And I don't want to go back into that space where it's overdrive and you're always pushing, pushing, pushing. It's not the kind of space I want to be living in, so I'm just being really mindful of what I'm doing with my time and where I'm putting my energy and what are the actual returns.
Andrew: I mean, certainly financial but also emotionally and I don't know their levels because sometimes there's those things that seem like a great idea, but the returns are not what you thought you would get from them in the end. Right? And they ended up being, well, to be honest, a fucking hassle. It's like, “Man, why did I do this? How do I learn not to do stuff like this again?”
Fabeku: I've thought so much about this in the last couple of years. I mean, in part, because the physical stuff has changed my bandwidth in a lot of ways. But I mean, I would say up until about a year, a year and a half ago with the business stuff, I was at a point where I was constantly booked nine to 12 months out. The calendar was not just full, it was kind of overcapacity in a lot of ways.
Fabeku: And it's interesting because I think to a lot of people, that looked like success. I mean, every spot filled, booked forever and ever and ever, lots of money. And it was fine until it wasn't. And then when I started to deal with some of this body stuff and would have to shift stuff around in the schedule, I'm like, “This is fucking impossible.” I've got a 12-month calendar.
Fabeku: How the fuck do I move these people around without causing some ridiculous cascade that goes for three months and then all of a sudden, this thing that I really worked hard to accomplish and make happen, it's like, “No, I hate this. I can't do this. I don't want to do this anymore.”
Fabeku: And really taking a lot of steps in the last couple of years to just … I think for me, it was about redefining, like you said, what's important, what the returns are, what makes sense, what success looks like. And just deciding that, “Yeah, I don't want a calendar that's booked 12 months out. I don't want to do that anymore. I don't want to be scheduled every single slot of the day as sometimes I'd like to sleep in or I'd like to spend the morning painting or whatever it is.”
Fabeku: And that's been a big thing and I think in some ways, like I said, I've had to do it because of some of the physical stuff, but … And in some ways, it's been one of the best things because it really required me to take a way more conscious look at, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? And does this actually make sense? Is this the shit you want to do?”
Fabeku: And all of a sudden, I looked down and it's like, “Oh no, I don't want to do this. I don't want to do this and I want to do way less of this and way more of these three or four things.” And I think that's been so much of what the last, especially a year and a half, for me has been. It's just been remixing all of it and redistributing the weight to what I'm doing and why I'm doing this. It's been a big deal.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. I made a change when I opened the studio, coming back from the fire that I only open a month ahead of time, like a week before the end of the month usually because I realized that otherwise, you end up with these commitments further afield than you can wrangle, right? Or that aren't easy to wrangle.
Andrew: And I think that one of the values to me, and I think for you too, is this ostensible freedom with being an independent person. But it's very easy to lose any actual access to that freedom of schedule, right?
Aidan: Yes. Yes.
Andrew: To be like, “Oh, can I do whatever?” It's like, “Oh, well. No, I can't. I have a day full of clients and I can't easily move that.” And instead, just setting up those things so that there's a limit and … Yeah, it's great being booked ahead for sure, but I don't want to be booked six weeks ahead.
Andrew: I want to be two weeks ahead and then be deciding what my next month looks like depending on opportunities and other things that are going on and all that kind of stuff.
Fabeku: Yeah. For me, it drove the point home when a friend of mine who lives in Florida, she wanted to come in for a visit and she said, “Well, when are you free?” And I looked at the calendar and I'm like, “10 months from now.” What the fuck is this? It doesn't make any sense. And you're right. It's that kind of thing.
Fabeku: And all of a sudden, I felt like … and it's not that, I'm not saying it's the same thing, but I felt like the person that's working for somebody else that had already used their vacation time and then wasn't going to be free until next year. It's like, “This doesn't make sense. This isn't the life that I want to live at this point.”
Fabeku: And for years, it was fine. I loved it and enjoyed it and it was … I thrived in that environment. But I think that's for me, why I continue to look at this coherence as a process thing as opposed to some destination. It just stopped being coherent and I'm glad that all of us have the freedom to reshuffle the deck as we need to.
Aidan: Yeah. I think, I mean, it sounds like we're all very much in the same place because that's what I got hit with the jewelry, is I went from the people who buy it at whatever rate they buy it and then I build according to what they bought and then custom work in there. And I dropped that and went to like, “I'll just offer collections and see how that goes.”
Aidan: And what I found was those were fine ways to actually generate enough money for us to get by. The time that it takes for me to do what I like in that or what I want to do in that process is so immense that even when I wasn't booked forward, even when I was building the collections, it's still like, “No. I need all day, way too many days out of a month to dedicate to this,” which is on one level, fine, because I love the work.
Aidan: But because there's so much … and this is probably true for all three of us … there's so much emotional and magical energy tied into what we're doing that the exhaustion level was just not reasonable.
Aidan: And again, realizing at some point, you go, “Okay, what am I actually interested in?” And for me, it's … both me and my allies are fully invested in this transmission to those people that maybe we can help. And it seemed like for a long time, that the talismanic work was the best way to do that.
Aidan: And again, I love the whole process of it, but in the last, I guess like six months, that really shifted to like, “No, I really want to be producing books so that that is a wide range thing that can I go.
Aidan: And then I want to teach classes where I can really engage with people because there's no time to do that with the jewelry work that I was doing in a way that I would like to kind of go, “Okay, this is what's … this is how some of the stuff that I want to share works. And then let's engage about it so that we can get somebody rolling,” in a way that I felt like I couldn't before. Yeah.
Fabeku: And I think that exhaustion piece, that's always the sign. And I think … But I mean, how long does it take us or anybody to catch that? Most of the time, the solution is more coffee, more sugar, more shit food, more donuts, whatever it is for however long we can until … For me anyway, I reached the point that it's like, “Yeah, more caffeine isn't going to fix this.”
Fabeku: The problem is not a caffeine deficiency. Whatever expenditure is happening, it's no longer coherent. And so it's taking more than it's giving. And yeah, I mean, I think that for me is always the sign, whether it's in a relationship or a business thing or whatever that, “Yeah, something has changed and so you need to change your response to it.”
Andrew: For sure. Yeah. Well, I think that when you start showing up differently to places, it's like that's the problem, right? And that's the problem with me in the fall where I was just really run down from relationship stuff. A couple of long-term relationships ended for me in the fall.
Andrew: And from reopening the store, which was no small amount of work and trying to wrangle that, but also in a completely new way that I would show up and things would just be making me crusty and I'd be like, “Oh man, what's up with that?” And I think that's another sign, right? When small things are … if they were singular, a small thing just irritates you so much.
Andrew: You're just like, “Ah.” It's like, “Oh, that's also a good sign,” where it's like, “Man, I just got to step back from this somehow. I got to change this dynamic,” because showing up with that energy is not good magically for anything, right?
Aidan: Yeah. For sure.
Andrew: That is one of those situations where you can't start to influence what's going on with your vibes. Right?
Andrew: And that's not ideal at all. Right? That's just not helpful, so.
Fabeku: Well. And I think too when that exhaustion kicks in at such a deep level, how do you funnel the energy that you need into the magic? How do you fuel it? There's no fucking fuel there at some point. It's like you can sit in the car with no gas and jam the pedal down, but good luck. And there's just … and I think that's the thing.
Fabeku: Yeah. And for me, that was another reason that I wanted to shift things because it's like if I can't fuel the art and the magic, which really to me, are the most important out of any of the things on the list, then what am I doing? If I don't have fuel for that shit, then something has gone really seriously sideways for me.
Aidan: Yeah. And it's interesting too because we would like to believe that there's infinite capacity and there just isn't. And so at the point that I was working on the book, which is … it's mostly done. It needs a bunch of revision, but … and I realized I couldn't get the space to even do the revision, doing the jewelry the way that I was. And there's another three books waiting behind that one that are in process to some degree, though they're at their beginning stages.
Aidan: Then it became really clear, like what's more important here? It's like, “Yes, I can make another thousand pieces of jewelry,” which I know is helpful to people and it's helpful again, financially to me. And I love the process, but this other thing is more important. So what's an appropriate feeder to that work?
Aidan: And it's like, “Well, then I'd rather more directly involved with the people that are using the material to figure out what's translating and what's not translating so that I can get a clearer transmission.” So the jewelry and the books was no longer working, but the classes and the books seem like they will. So it's okay. I have to let go of that piece for the most part.
Aidan: And it's not saying it won't come back someday, but there's enough on the table that it doesn't work with that, that I had to make that shift.
Andrew: Yeah. There's time when we've been talking about teaching some here, but we'll jump in with one of the questions that somebody posted on somewhere, Facebook, maybe. When you're teaching, what do you learn from that process? What have you learned about yourself from that process?
Andrew: How does teaching or does teaching change the way you think about things or talk about things? What's that role for you around that stuff?
Aidan: I mean, for me, I haven't done direct teaching since the 90s except whatever goes on, on a small scale, but kind of focused work. So it's interesting. So the prep work for that really gets me clarifying how I think and how I feel about stuff because my problem is a lack of … I could do so much that it's like, “Okay, but what's a useful collection?
Aidan: What's a useful tool of collection?” I don't want to just go and hit up the hardware store and throw every tool available into the box.
Andrew: Step one, buy a hardware store.
Aidan: So yeah, it's definitely … which is kind of unfortunately not a bad metaphor for how some folks approach all this stuff, right? Buy every tool in the hardware store and learn how to use it. It's like, “No, what we need is we need to get you the little lunchbox size, little kit that has a few things that you can do some stuff with.” But that also has to have depth.
Aidan: And so I'm kind of the anti-complexity guy, so it's how do you get a coherent little package to use that term that somebody could either use as part of a larger thing or on its own. And so it really does. For me, it's been super clarifying is what I would say.
Fabeku: Yeah. And I agree with that. So for me, I saw that a lot when I did last year. I think I did … it was like three weeks on hyper centrals, four weeks maybe. And it was interesting because I mean, that's the thing I've done forever and I could talk about it for six months and I didn't want to because I don't think it was necessary. It's like you said.
Fabeku: It's like, “Here's the lunchbox size kit on hyper sigils that also talks about things that a lot of people don't talk about and gives you plenty of room to take those as far as you want for decades into the future without also simultaneously overwhelming you into thinking of, ‘Fuck, this is such a big thing. I'm never going to be able to use this or it's going to take me forever to get this.”
Fabeku: And I mean, so I think that's one of my main considerations. It's like what's the minimum information you need to use this immediately and effectively? And that's what I'll teach. And some things, maybe we circle back some things, maybe we stretch out, like the divination thing I did last year and six months and that was a lot.
Fabeku: We've dug into a ton, but I think that … and the other thing I'm always thinking about is like how do I teach things in a way that anybody with any magical ecology can make use of this? Right? I don't care if you're a Buddhist, if you're a Christian, if you're an atheist, if you're a Satanist, whatever, it doesn't matter. I want you to be able to take this and plug it into your magical ecology and use it.
Fabeku: It's not … because if you have to adopt mine in order to use it, then for me, I think I failed as a teacher. Right? I mean, outside of teaching traditional practices or whatever. But you that's a big thing. So for me, it's always a question of, what's actually essential to the practice and what's my own shit that I built around either preferences or magical aesthetics or whatever, that doesn't really matter to anybody other than me?
Fabeku: And have I stripped enough of that away so that anybody can take this thing and run with it? That's always a big consideration for me.
Aidan: Yeah, totally. That makes sense. There's a practice that I'm teaching in the class that I have coming up that I actually went out to the Salvation Army and bought all new pieces to put together because I could see people getting fixated on the aesthetic that I personally use, which is really not relevant to the practice.
Aidan: So it's like, “Okay, let's go see what I can pick up for five or 10 bucks that can assemble this structure so that it's not as linked to what's going on in my alter.” Because that's just my artistic sense and my aesthetic and what me and my spirits have come together on as a language that works. Right? And that's totally not necessary, but it's what people tend to get hooked on.
Andrew: Well, that's the Instagram era, right? You know what I mean? So it circles back to the originating the thing about the name of this group. Right?
Andrew: How do ensure you stack the skull?
Aidan: Stack the skulls.
Andrew: The higher they are, the [inaudible 00:26:36] you are. tack. Right? There's nothing wrong with that at all, but the aesthetics over there are not super relevant.
Aidan: Yeah. Not on a wider level. It's that thing that I talked about in six ways, right? That there's … I think that people, and I used to definitely have this, get super focused on this specific stuff, but the specific stuff is always super context and aesthetics fits in there. And what really is more relevant is what's the general thing that is not necessarily universally applicable but more universally applicable.
Aidan: And in the age where we've got pictures of everything, it definitely can get really hung up. You got to have this thing that looks just like that.
Andrew: Well, and just, because it looks good doesn't mean that it's alive. Right?
Aidan: For sure.
Andrew: Because there's the other piece.
Andrew: Yes. I mean, I think that there are lots of things that I run across and not that I have to feel anything from everything, but I'm like, “Oh, it doesn't … I don't feel any feedback from this at all.” And maybe the other thing that's there just doesn't want anything to do with me.
Andrew: It's possible, but maybe it's just … there's a failure to make that connection. Right? Just something [crosstalk 00:28:00] because the work itself that would support that connection is not strong, but the emphasis on all those other things is.
Fabeku: Yeah. I think that's the thing. To me, the metric is, does this thing … can you feel it in your bones? Can you feel it in your animal body? If so, then who gives a fuck what it looks like? It doesn't matter if it would make a great Instagram photo. That to me, that's the wrong metric for shit like that. I mean, listen, I love the Instagram photos but in terms of magic, who cares? It's irrelevant.
Aidan: Totally. Exactly. And it's also funny because people get hung up I think. And again, I know that I did this when I started out, but you get hung up on things that are, again, specific. So my current shop is filled with halved pieces of fruit with two lights burning on it. I could make up this whole story about why this is the way to do this. And it's like, “This is just what's going on this week. I don't really know why.
Aidan: It's the thing that felt totally right.” I cut something in half and went, “Oh, man. That really needs candles on I,” and I could feel it and it works. And it's also the same thing. Yeah, I mean, there's so much weird shit in here right now because I think of who's hanging out for the class if it is really aesthetically wrong from that or even my normal thing.
Aidan: I've got all of this beautiful stuff and the monster energies and the red bulls and shit. It's like, “What the fuck?” Old candy canes that I stole from the gym after Christmas. But there's people who like those. I'm not going to buy them if I can have them.
Fabeku: I think people even do the same thing. When I was teaching the sigils course, it's one of the main reasons that I didn't take any pictures of the sigils that I drew because then suddenly people think, “Oh, well. That's what a sigil should look like you.” No, this is what they currently look like. Over the last 30 years, they looked a million different ways.
Aidan: [crosstalk 00:30:03] shit.
Fabeku: I mean, the first time, they looked exactly like the Pete Carroll sigils in his book. I think that's the thing and I get it and I think that people … I think it's so easy to fall into that subconscious even. It's not so much, “Let me copy Fabeku's sigil,” it's, “Let me copy Aidan's alter.” It's, “Oh, well.
Fabeku: This is somebody who knows what they're doing, and so this is what it should look like so let me try to make it look like that.” And then, great. So then your brain says, “Okay, good job. You drew a sigil that looks like a sigil,” and then it doesn't do shit because like you said, Andrew, it's not alive. It's a thing that looks like a thing, but it's not the thing.
Andrew: Or you end up in a cycle. One of the things that I've learned from teaching or been really clear about going into teaching, and I've learned how to make that happen is, I started in a school of thought that says, “Only the only the hammer from the top of Mt. Everest hardware store was acceptable.” Right? And by the way, only on the third full moon of the year and-
Aidan: On Monkey Island.
Andrew: Right, exactly. Not the usual Everest, the secret Everest. It's inside the hollow woods-
Aidan: The secret Everest inside Monkey Island.
Andrew: … which is inside the hollow woods. So you got to get in the hollow woods, you got to find the doppelganger, Himalaya Mountains and then you got to find the hardware store and you'd better bring their currency because they don't accept dollars. Whereas every town's got a hardware store. Right?
Andrew: And what you find there is great. It's totally acceptable and if you want or need something else, there's a point at which that becomes aesthetic in personal taste, which is great. And if it helps you get in the mood, that's fantastic. And if it helps you feel aligned or if a spirit you have … there are times where somebody taps on my shoulder and says, “Hey, I want that.”
Andrew: I bought … Marcus McCoy makes these copper harvesting knives. Right? And as soon as I saw one of those, one of my guides was just like, “That is exactly the knife that I want you to take when we go do stuff.” I'm like, “Perfect.” And then I'm like, “But not with that thing on it,” because there's like a triple spiral or whatever on it. So I was like, “All right, rushed markers right away.” I'm like, “Hey, can I get one of these?”
Andrew: “Of course.” But that's specific, right? And that's specific to that relationship. That is not universal. Right? And you may find that you do want or need something like that, but you may never need it or it may not fit your aesthetic. And that's awesome too. It's completely acceptable. Right?
Fabeku: For me, I love … and maybe this is part of the art stuff or not, maybe it's just a personality thing, but I love shit like that and I love the collection like that. And I love the fancy silver pens for the sigils. And so there's … I don't make any apology for that, but one of the best things I did maybe 10 years ago was essentially put all of that stuff away and say, “Okay.
Fabeku: I'm doing sigils on white paper with a blue ballpoint pen,” which I hate and never use. Or, “I'm doing candle magic with a bag of dollar candles from the dollar store,” or whatever. And part of that was to see, does this actually matter? I mean, it matters to me, but does this actually matter in any wider sense? And it doesn't. It really doesn't. That's the thing. What do you mean for sigil magic?
Fabeku: You need something to write within a piece of paper. That's all you need. That's it. If you want to get the fancy black paper and the pen, cool. Do it. But I think it's a trap when we get stuck into thinking, “I have to have this. I have to have this.” Because that to me, it just doesn't seem true.
Andrew: Yeah. I feel like that's where one of those pieces around, “You definitely don't have to have it.” And I also look to pursue my joy around it.
Fabeku: Yeah, absolutely.
Aidan: Absolutely on that.
Andrew: I found these new pens at the art supply store. They're called preppy pens and they come in different sizes, but they're refillable with a cartridge and they're … I think I paid like $7 for it and I've bought a lot of other much more expensive fountain pens and whatever. And these ones, the feel of them, the flow of them, they come in different colors.
Andrew: The outsides are color-coded and they're just such a delight. And so every time I stop by the art store now, I buy another one because there's somewhere in my life where one of those doesn't live regularly. And I was just like, “Why am I drawing with this crappy pen when I can be drawing with this other nice one that I like?” And there's a pleasure in that.
Andrew: But again, that's so personal, right? That's not … it adds something to the magic if I'm doing magic, but it's also an active source of joy for me, which I think is also a super valid reason for things, especially if we don't say that that actually matters in the end on any real big scale.
Fabeku: Well, it's like for me. So as an example, I just made this batch of lunar talismans a couple of months ago and I mean, I went all out. I had fossil dugong ribs. I had literally a lunar media writer, all kinds of shit in there. I spent forever finding the stuff. And it's not that I had to. I mean, again, like you said, it adds something. I mean, there's clearly something added to these pieces because of what's in them.
Fabeku: But part of it is I look at it as a piece of art. It's like I'm putting the best stuff I can and there's enormous joy for me in grinding up a lunar media writer, fossil cave bear toe or whatever. But the reality is, could I have gotten a stone from the ocean and made a lunar talisman?
Fabeku: Sure. Of course. But I think it is that weird thing. I don't think it's good to say it doesn't matter because it does matter, but it's not essential. And to me, there's the-
Fabeku: And I think the problem is in that people look at it and say, “Well, I can't make a lunar talisman unless I have a lunar media writer.” And that's bullshit. That's complete bullshit. I love it. I love putting those pieces together in a way that's artful and beautiful and whatever, but you don't have to do that.
Aidan: Right. Yeah. I think that's a big thing. Part of it comes out of I think … There's a whole kind of literature that says that this has to be done this way. Right? And we see this and not just magic, but it's extremely prevalent in magic. And that's very weird to me as somebody who came from these chaos, magic background. Even though I feel like I've, in many ways, moved away from that into something else, that's my own thing.
Aidan: That's not consciously unrelated to it, but I was born there. Was that process of, “Well, what does this do? What does this piece of work do? What are the elements that actually matter here?” And then realizing that, “Yeah, there's stuff that really triggers something in me that is optimization and stuff.” Like, “Yeah. There's particular … if I got the hit that I needed to ride the bike up into South Mountain to collect dirt from there for something, I'm going to go do that,” because that's legit.
Aidan: But it may not need to be dirt from there to do that work. That doesn't mean you got to come out here and go up to South Mountain, which is how a lot of stuff's written. And I think that it really has messed up a lot of folks because they do believe that if I can't have a beeswax candle to do this piece of work, then I can't do this piece of work.
Fabeku: I think that for me, I think that's probably the best saying that I got out of the chaos magic stuff. You know what I mean? When you're doing magic with silly putty and bones from chicken wings, you can't really get too precious about, “Yeah, this is essential for magic.” It's like, “Listen, really?” I mean, it's just … For me, that really was the best thing.
Fabeku: Because I think before that, I think I was fairly precious about it or I thought it had to be this or had to be that. And there was some things I just didn't have the money together. I didn't have the resources for whatever it was. And I thought, “Well, I just can't do that.” And then suddenly, chaos magic was like, “Well, actually, there's other ways you can do shit.” And for me, that was a huge thing. A huge thing.
Aidan: Absolutely. And I remember, I've had a lot from the talismanic stuff. I would get people … and it's lovely that somebody recognizes that the work that you do is potent. I would get folks from places in the world that what I charged for a piece of jewelry is like a year's worth, going like, “I really want to do this. How do I …” and I would be like, “Don't.”
Aidan: You're targeting a specific tree that is not necessary. It's just not necessary. And again, it's like, “Sure, if you've got the ability. I do this thing too. There's things that I have in here that I paid crazy money for because they really speak to me and I was in a position to do it.”
Aidan: And sometimes, it was a stretch and sometimes that stretch was part of it, right? It's not like that's not a thing either. But again, it doesn't … One of the things that we know, again, like teaching the protection stuff for the class is it's all kitchen herbs. There's no … it's partially for that. It's like, “I don't know where you are.
Aidan: I've got people from different parts of the world. I'm not going to … I might suggest that you get some Aubrey Camino if you can because it works, but it's really cool.”
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I think it's always fascinating, right, that kind of stuff. And I think that also becomes this matter of like, “What do you have? What can you connect with?” Right? And it's different depending on which practices, right? Like in the Aricia stuff, the specific plants are super specific, right?
Andrew: There's no negotiating that beyond a certain point. There's a little wiggle room, but there's not a ton of wiggle room. Right. It's just like-
Andrew: … “Okay, we're going to do this. Therefore, we need these things. And if you don't have them, I'm not exactly sure what we do,” right? But outside of specific traditions, there's always those things. And it also becomes this question of, what do you have a dynamic of living connection with? Right? I just got back in after struggling to find a source for them for a while, Rose of Jericho, which is one of my all-time favorites, right?
Andrew: And I had a Rose of Jericho at the store that I'd had almost the entire time that the store had been open, I think. And then it was very dynamic and a living connection and it had all sorts of things that I had given it over time and worked with it in a lot of ways and it just wasn't available and because getting stuff in Canada is complicated sometimes. And so when I finally found them, I'm like, “Great.”
Andrew: So now, not only is that are they available in the store, which is lovely, but even more so for me, I can now reconnect with that plant and start to have that process again through the direct connection.” But it's like that also comes out of years of interaction and perhaps some natural affinity in some way or another. Right? But does everybody else need to not do financial magic if they don't find a Rose of Jericho? Of course not. Right?
Andrew: Like you said there, there's a billion other bits and pieces. Are they really cool? Well, they are really cool. But also-
Fabeku: Well, it's like … I've worked with Alice Wood for … I don't know, 15, 16 years. It's one of the plants I work with a ton and I've worked with it in all kinds of ways to the point that I've got this like grimoire of aloes wood magic. And my question is, “Well, if I give that grimoire to you, is it going to work?” Probably not. At least probably not in the same way because either you don't have a relationship with the plant or you don't have the same kind of relationship with the plant.
Fabeku: And to me, not better or worse, but it's just different. And to me, I assume that what the plant … and I think this is my baseline assumption for a lot of this shit is that what the plant has given me is about the dynamic that I have with that plant. Not that I'm channeling some universal grimoire of aloeswood magic that anybody. That doesn't make sense to me.
Fabeku: I don't think that's a real thing. And I again, I think … and that's why I haven't talked to … Some people have asked about it because I mentioned it in passing and I haven't talked a lot about it because I have no idea if it's going to work the same for anybody. And I use what is expensive and not always easy to get and whatever.
Fabeku: And I think it gives people the wrong impression that in order to do this, I need this plant or I need this. And I don't think that's true. My thing is find the relationship that you have that lets you do a similar thing that probably doesn't have shit to do with aloes would. Maybe it's Abra Camino, maybe it's Rose of Jericho, whatever it is.
Fabeku: And I wish more people would talk about their practices that way instead of, “Here's the universal gospel of aloes world.” It's like fuck off with that. That's not real.
Andrew: It's like how people talk about their issues, right? They come into the store sometimes and they're like, “I need Oshun candle because I need to attract some love of my life.” And I'm like, “Maybe.” But when we're … for initiated practitioners, and I think that for people who practice in a traditional way, the reality is although Orishas have a certain affinity to certain kinds of things, the reality is that if you're in good with shon go, you can fix your money, fix your home, you can fix your whatever.
Andrew: Right? The reality is this, at a certain point, it's like having a good friend whose skill is not helping you hang drywall, but they're going to come and help you heck drywall because they love you. And they're like, “Sure, dude. I'll do that. That's fine. We can do that.”
Andrew: These energies can work with us in a broad sense of a way, especially and probably only if we've taken that time to build a deep and lasting connection with them and probably that rest on some affinity that is hard to trace and makes it not necessarily universal. Right? For me, one of the local plants is Murdoch, right. And it's like, what do I need? Anything?
Andrew: I'm just like, “All right. Hey, Berta, you got a thing for this?” Like, “Yeah, just trim this little bit off the edge of the leaf and do blah, blah, blah with it and it's going to fix this [inaudible 00:45:40] great.” I'm like, “Oh, you know what? I could dig up the whole root,” whatever. And it's like, “But on the outside of the room, not the inside of the room.”
Andrew: It becomes a myriad of applications, which again, aren't necessarily universal or maybe they are, it's hard to say, but they don't seem universal. But they come out of that direct relational experience of it.
Fabeku: I wish that was a point that was talked about more in the occult circles, right? Because every day, you see posts, “What's the best term for love? What's the best term for magic? What's the best spirit for money?”It's like, “Fuck.” I mean, I get it, but to me, that's the wrong question. Anytime people ask that, my question back is, “Who do you have a relationship with?”
Fabeku: That's the answer to that. Not some random spirit or plant or stone or whatever that knows fuck all about you and what you're doing. Go to the spirits of the people you have relationships with. And I think … I don't know how this happened, but this falling into this trap of treating spirits, any kind of spirit as this one-hit wonder, right? This is a lover, this is a … it's just like, “Really? It doesn't make sense to me.”
Fabeku: And I just wonder how different people's magic would look both in terms of the practice and the results if this relationship piece were more front and center. If it wasn't this weird, utilitarian, one-note, “This spirit does this,” like, “[inaudible 00:47:10] is for love.” It's like, “Come on. That doesn't seem real.” But it seems like such a pervasive perspective on things.
Fabeku: And listen, I mean, I fell into the same shit for once. I'm not being critical of anything that I haven't been guilty of myself, but it just seems to be such a big point. It just isn't discussed enough.
Aidan: Yeah. I've been thinking about this in a particular context. I made a joke to Charlene Coop saying that there's a way that people treat the name spirits like Tinder. We're just going to look up and find somebody local that's interested in getting down. Right? But usually, they're not doing that to just get down.
Aidan: They're doing that because they want something deeper. Right? On the spirit side. I don't know what goes on the Tinder side, but I understand that's a misapplication of Tinder. And I think it's interesting-
Andrew: Every app. I think Tinder is a misapplication.
Aidan: Again, I'm out of those games largely. And one of the things that came up is then I had this … one of my trans things that happened a few days after that. I was thinking about that comment and I got this great vision and I was like, okay, so imagine that there's like … in North America, let's just say. In North America where the three of us are, but there's 100,000 potential partners for us, right, that would suit us, each of us.
Aidan: But what ends up happening is that we've got the names and the photo of like 150 of them and so everybody wants to figure out which of those 150 would be a good partner. And to me, the thing is so much more than this wide-open of going, “No, I want to connect to the currents around me and the allies around me and then I want to work with them.
Aidan: I want to develop those relationships through the things that I've learned work for me to do that.” And then why would I go outside of that to try and get something done? Maybe if I had to, if that was what I was guided to, but I'm certainly not going to go hunt for that. I'm much more likely to come in here and go, “Hey, Rutan candles.”
Fabeku: Oh, that was the one that-
Aidan: I'll buy you more energy drinks for this.
Andrew: Those are a lot of magical place course I taught. Right? Which is … and I'm going to be reteaching in the spring. It's that energy of like, “All right, either where do those entities that you're connected to show up in your environment or what your environment shows up for you. And how do you start to build that?” Right? And it's just such a different approach. Right?
Andrew: One of the things that I had to remind people taking that class, “Look, identify the plant. Great. Please make sure it's not secretly poisoned. Don't pick Poison Ivy by mistake and fall in love with it and take a bath in it, and then write angry emails. But also don't research it,” right? It's not about researching it. At some point … and just enough to make sure that you're safe and that you're not like, “Oh, yeah.
Andrew: These berries look delicious.” And then all of a sudden … but allow that to expand. Working to allow that expansion to happen, that's the actual work of becoming a better magician, right?
Andrew: It's not necessarily just about knowledge and knowledge is lovely. And corroboration feels great when you're like, “Oh, I really felt that this plant was good for this.” And then you Google it and 10 people say it's good for that. You're like, “Oh, it's great. I'm making a genuine connection.” It feels great. Right?
Andrew: And we may need some of that some of the time, but also just being open and being connected in that mysterious way. I think that's also really crucial to this process.
Fabeku: I totally agree. It's like when people ask me, “How do I get to know this plant? Or how do I get to know the stone?” That's the first thing I say, “Don't Google it. Don't look up what you know witchipedia says this.” It's unnecessary. Right? To me, if you want to get to know a stone, if you want to research something, research it's geology, research its mineralogy, but then sit with it.
Fabeku: Hang out with it just like you would a human being. Right? If I want to get to know Andrew, I'm not going to Google Andrew and read a bunch of ShowMe. I'm just going to … we're going to hang out. I'm going to ask you what you like. I'm going to pay attention to the music you listen to. I'm going to see what you eat. I'm going to ask you questions. I'm going to see how I feel when I'm around you. That's how you get to know shit.
Andrew: And I that is the key to Tinder's app. [crosstalk 00:52:08]? People are like, “How do you have success on this thing?” I'm like, “That,” right? If you meet somebody and you're actually interested in them other than just for something super transitory, actually do those things too. Right? Because people are like, “Oh, I don't know what to do.” I'm like, “Find it with that person. Be curious.” Right? I don't care if [inaudible 00:52:28].
Fabeku: No. I mean, at the end of the day, I agree. I think one of the best muscles to build as a magician is relationship building skills. That's it. You don't have to buy a million books. You don't have to take a million courses. You don't have to Google a bunch of shit. Just build a relationship with stones or plants or spirits the same way you would have people. It's the same shit. It's the same shit.
Aidan: And it's crazy because it's so common. All of this stuff is really common everywhere. And I saw this recently and I didn't respond to it, though I probably should have. Somebody asked like, “So how do you get in? Where can I learn about connecting to desert spirits?”
Aidan: It's like, “The only way that I really know is you get into that environment, whether this is … if you live near one, you can do that, but you can do this as kind of trancey stuff or daydreamy stuff of somehow connect to that space and to see what develops. See who you find. See who rises up and see what happens.” It's funny though, because I think … everybody knows I'm a total gym rat, but I see this all the time in the conversations about that.
Aidan: Somebody will see somebody dead-lifting a world record and go, “Their form is wrong.” And you go, “That guy is the strongest in that move in the world ever. How is his form wrong? It worked.” That was the goal. It's the goal. It has nothing to do with the thing you're talking about. His goal was to pick up 1,008 pounds and stand up with it. So by definition, he did it right. And I think that's good learning magic too all the time.
Fabeku: I think to me, the same idea … at least for me, the same idea applies in figuring out what to work with magically as it does hanging out with people. When I'm around people, I pay attention to how my animal body feels. Is there a pull? Is there … am I drawn to that person in whatever way? As a friend, it doesn't matter whatever it is. It's the same when I'm sitting with plants. I feel a ping toward this plant.
Fabeku: I don't know this plant, but there's a pull. So I want to know this plant more, this stone or this place or this river. And that to me is guided so much of my practice, and again, it's the same with people. If I spot somebody and there's a pull, then I'm curious about them. And I want to know more about them, whether it's a friend or a partner, whatever, it doesn't matter.
Fabeku: And me, that's a decidedly different thing than Googling which plants work money magic. Too me, it feels like we're coming at opposite angles. I mean, clearly, both can work, but for me, that pull is everything. And if I don't feel it, I don't give a fuck who told me this plant is great for money magic. If there was not that pull there, I'm not into it. I'll keep looking until I feel it.
Andrew: It brings me to something that I've been thinking about a lot lately and this might be the perfect place to bring it up. We've all been in magic for a long time. Right? So I sound like an old person because I'm an old person. Stuff comes and goes and people are like, “All of it, this, all of it, that.”
Andrew: And I've been watching a big surge of witchcraft in which the energy going on around the store, in culture, in my social medias and stuff like that. And whenever I see a big sort of movement into something, I'm always like, “That's really interesting. What is going on? What's motivating that? How is that serving people?”
Andrew: I'm genuinely curious about that, right? And supportive of it. But I also wonder, because I understand how these things work, what's going to happen next, right?
Andrew: Because this idea that … and maybe I'm wrong, right? Maybe I'm just old and curmudgeonly, in which case, delete this episode, please. Let's never speak of it again. But often, what happens is there's this big sway into a thing and then a bunch of people find a deep and lasting affinity with it.
Andrew: And I'm really curious where those people are going to be in 10 or 15 years and what I'm going to get to learn from their journey through this stuff as they have a depth of practice under their belts in the same way that I learn now from those people who've already been doing these things for a stretch of time and have that.
Andrew: But I'm also curious about where those people who were looking for something and either they found it and moved on or they were looking for something else and it wasn't here and then they moved on. We were talking about some … Aidan said something earlier about, they're actually looking for something deeper. Right?
Andrew: And one of the things that I've been really noticing, which I find fascinating, is that I see a lot of people who've been all in on the witchy fronts over the last year or a couple of years starting to … their posts and maybe their magic … I don't know what they're doing privately, but certainly, their public stuff. It's starting to take on a much more explicitly therapeutic approach.
Andrew: There's a lot more people talking about trauma, dealing with trauma. There's a lot more people leaning … not abandoning the magic side of it, but leaning into stuff where the relationship that they're trying to sort it the most is ultimately that relationship with themselves. Right? And I mean, I think that's always smart. I think that it's a great thing to get into around doing magic in general.
Andrew: Certainly, it was a good chunk of my practice at one point to do therapy as a way of freeing myself in order to heal myself or to … I mean, not just be a better magician, but certainly, be better at magic and better in my relationships and all those things. But I'm curious if you've seen that or if you've seen other things, what do you think around that stuff? I know I just said a million things, but responses, please.
Aidan: I mean, I see that. I think that we are … For whatever reason, I mean, we've got this crazy thanks to social media and the news cycle and everything else. We have this much clearer view if you're able to step back from it. There's really multiple ways of being in this world that are not really congruent. Right? When I was growing up, there was a lot of messaging that in the end, everybody wants the same thing.
Aidan: Right? And that's not what I see now. No. We want very different things and we are not supportive of the other. And I think that this is that. I think it is the evolution of that trauma. And so I think that there's a lot of that out there and there's maybe just more … maybe it's gotten to the point where it's so overt that poor people are willing to do that work because I definitely get fed tons and tons of that work for my allies, both for me and then to share with people.
Aidan: It's an interesting thing as to the … Again, I think that the media cycling is really interesting around magic. I just think it's fascinating because there are those who totally freak out every time. And I always remember there's a line from Quadrophenia by the who, a very old record of the slide where he says, “It's sadly ecstatic that your heroes are news.”
Aidan: And I see that constantly around the witchcraft stuff in the last couple of years. People are like, “Yay, we got it on TV.” And, “Oh, my God. It's so bad.” It's like, yeah, but don't trip. It's just this is what goes on.
Andrew: Well, it was like … what was it? Last week or the week before that bullshit article, I think it was in the independence that some journalists wrote like, “Oh, I tried magic for a week and it doesn't work.” And everybody was so upset about it. And I get it. I mean, it was a bullshit article, but I mean, to me, it was just kind of like, “Who cares?” I mean, I get it. It was a shitty thing to publish, but does this do anything to magic?
Andrew: Does this do anything to people who actually give a fuck about it that are seriously interested in it? I mean, it was … I mean, she was wearing some witch's Halloween costume in the photo. What did you think the piece was going to be? It was bullshit from the beginning. And magic has been around way before this and it's going to exist way after this.
Andrew: And I don't know if it's just a function of, like you said, getting older or just having limited bandwidth, but I didn't really get the upset about it. I mean, which doesn't just say people shouldn't be upset, but for me, it was just like, “Okay, next.” I mean, it was nonsense. Who cares?
Andrew: Like Rumi says, right? The real work is done by somebody outside digging in the dirt, right? There's all these other bits and pieces and trappings and maybe they're important. Maybe they're a part of your journey. Maybe media representation for who you are is important for any number of reasons, but also, it's like that piece, a piece I shared this week from … I think we all shared it … from Jason Miller. Right?
Andrew: Where it's like, “Just do the work. It doesn't matter if you feel like it or don't feel like it. If you're committed to a relationship with the spirit or doing magic or …” I remember this when I used to do a LIBOR rash, right? The four times a day solar adoration that Crowley and his various descendants propose. Right? Speaking of finding the hammer at the top of the Himalayan Mountains.
Andrew: It's like trying to do something four times a day at the four quarters of the day, every day. Definitely, it's overly complicated. I'm not sure that it's actually necessary per day. It can be, but it's … yeah. But so many times, it just never felt like it. Right? And not to say that I did it 100% because I didn't. I really literally, over two years, maybe I did two months, 100% of that at the peak of it because it's really difficult.
Andrew: But the successes that I had, and that's sort of 75% or 80%, which is more like the average of what I was accomplishing came because I was like, “I don't feel like it but I going to do it, so let's do it.” And even at one point, I remember talking to a friend of mine about it and he was like, “Well, some traditions, you yell at your gods to try and call them down.”
Andrew: So maybe just … whatever. I just remember reciting it one day and just every second word was, “Fuck this, fuck that, fuck you. Fucking sick of being here and this whole thing,” and I broke through something and it got better. But, yeah. It's complicated the relationship to these things.
Fabeku: Yeah. And I think that to me is what's interesting about … and going back to … we were talking about with representation and news cycles and all of that. The conversation in the last handful of years about the whole witches of Instagram stuff and I have very mixed feelings about it and at the end of the day, who gives a fuck what my feelings are about it? But all of the conversations about how this has turned magic into some joke. It's like, “No, it hasn't. This hasn't done shit to magic.”
Andrew: Magic is always a good joke.
Aidan: Magic is the joke that gets you killed.
Andrew: That's the actual history of it, right?
Aidan: Yeah. So the fact that it's on TV and they aren't burning those people.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I think-
Aidan: That's positive references for sure.
Fabeku: My thing is it's like this has been around forever. And if the witches of Instagram thing, if 5% of the people that fall into that end up being solid practitioners, I think that's fucking rad. And I don't really give a shit about the other 95%. It doesn't feel like my problem to care about. I think magic will filter those people out over time. And I guess … I don't know. I mean, again, I get it.
Fabeku: Because I do think … I mean, like we talked about in the beginning, I think it's problematic. It gives people the sense that magic has to be this photogenic, heavily filtered, photograph of whatever. And that's nonsense. But I don't know. I guess I just feel like magic is bigger than that and I don't really sweat shit like that. And even if I find it personally annoying, which I do, but-
Andrew: I feel like it's … sometimes I think it's helpful to have the same conversation in different context. Right? So when I was 16, I tried to be in Goth for a week, seven days. That was as long as I lasted. And I realized … I tried to do it because I hung out with all these Goths, right? I was like, “Oh, well. This is fun and I could dye a hair black and put it up like Robert Smith and whatever.”
Andrew: It's pretty amusing. Maybe I'll show some pictures sometime. But what I realized was, “No, no, no, no. I should actually have a Mohawk and I'm way more punk rock than I'm Goth.” And it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with that week of trying a day or two, right? I tried it for a week and I learned something very important, “Hey, this isn't for me. I'm just going to keep rolling.”
Andrew: And I think that, like all of us, right? I started … people today might call it grimoire focus, but certainly like traditional ceremonial magic and Crowley and all that stuff. And I moved into other things and moved into other things and that's fantastic, right? Because that's the way it goes. That is if you happen to find a thing that you're in lifelong practice, lovely.
Andrew: If you don't find what you're looking for or hopefully, maybe more to the point, it grows and evolves as you've grown and evolved as a person, well, then just keep evolving. It doesn't matter. There's no shame in any of that.
Aidan: Yeah. I think too, it's interesting because I have to remember how differently wired people are, right? Because this is one of the things that has always blown my mind around the magical world and this is primarily around the wick end of things is where I've seen it. And this is not to bash on that at all. It's just not my thing.
Aidan: I have always been incredibly confused at the, “Let's get whatever our angle is represented accurately according to some specific definition so that it's acceptable to people.” And you go, “This doesn't work anywhere.” Yeah. Right? This hasn't worked for … Yes. You could end up at the big table of religions. It doesn't even work in there.” Look at America now and how acceptable Muslim religion is right now.
Aidan: Right? So why is this a target? I've never got it. Because to me, it's so individual. It's like what is your … and it goes back to that thing. What is your relationship to this process, to these powers, to these entities or to these deities? If you do deity work, that's what's irrelevant. Everything else is out of your control anyway. You might … yeah. Go ahead.
Andrew: Says the man who lives in a small house with a bunch of animals at the edge of America. Right?
Fabeku: That's true.
Andrew: I mean, I think I wonder where you're more community and socially minded and less … I don't know if hermetic, Kermit-like is the right word, but a range of practice if that would change how you felt about it.
Aidan: It's interesting because I spent a lot of time living in cities and probably the most overt I've ever been in was living in San Francisco. But this was also a different time and it is one of the downsides of the social media thing that I definitely see is in the 80s and the earliest 90s really before pictures happened on the internet, freaky concept for some people that are not as old as we are, it was not a thing.
Aidan: I hung out with people who were hermetic magicians who were Elamites, who were various Orisha angle's Santeria practitioners, Wiccans, what we would now consider traditional witchcraft, which basically meant that they really liked Paul Husan rather than Gardiner or whatever. And there was no real need to overly categorize that it was way more … No, you practice something that means something to you.
Aidan: We should have coffee. I would like to see more of that than what we see. But even in that context, it's like, “Man, the ceremonial people have always despised my approaches.” And that just became funny. It's like, “Yeah, well, we're not doing the same thing. That's evident. So you don't have to like it. I only have to like it.”
Andrew: Sure. For sure.
Fabeku: Yeah. I wonder how much of that's a function of the punk scene on all of this, right? Because I've been the same … I don't give a fuck. I do, “What works for you doesn't have to look like what it looks like for me. And if you're a cool person, I'm cool to hang out. I don't give a fuck if you work with angels or Satan or Jesus or Buddha or not. I don't care.”
Fabeku: And I guess I've never felt that push to make sure all of our shit looks the same. It's never been something that matters to me. And it also has really never mattered to me if you understand why my shit looks this way. It seems irrelevant in some ways. Yeah. But I get that for a lot of people, it's not.
Fabeku: That seems like a really important thing and the differences seem threatening or confusing or whatever. And that's just never something that's registered with me. My brain doesn't work that way, I don't think.
Aidan: Yeah. And I think you've got something there too about the punk thing for me at least, because there weren't enough punks to just hang out with punks when I was coming up, though my mom flipped out and made me remove one of them. I remember getting both of my ears pierced at like 14, which was just not done where we were. That clearly was not cool.
Aidan: Because then, how do you determine which queer makes you queer? Right? But so we hung out with everybody that was a little freaky, which was a really weird population. Like at my high school, the first one … Fabeku and I had a briefly talk about that.
Aidan: The first high school that I went to, that freak contingent was the hippie kids, a couple of Goth kids, the drama club with a small contingent of knife fighting behind the school low riders, a few metal heads and a few … this kid, Clint, who did escape from Korea, the wrong side of Korea. So yeah. It was never. It's just like, “Are you cool to me?” Right? That's all I care about.
Aidan: And that same thing, that was my initial approach to magic and there was a point where that switched where people got really heated. Again, there were people that told me I was going to hell for doing LIBOR restaurant or whatever when I was in the OTO, but I never just could take any of that seriously.
Andrew: If only it was so easy to get to hell.
Aidan: We could have skipped the whole Monkey Island thing.
Fabeku: Right? I just could raid the library and come back to take a look at that book. It's got teeth. Let's take it.
Fabeku: Yeah. And I think for me … and it was the same way at my school. I mean, there was literally four or five punk kids were sort of Goth punk hybrid or something. But it was just all the weirdos hanging out. And for me, I love that. I mean, it expanded my artistic horizons. It expanded my music. It expanded my sense of people.
Fabeku: And I guess I've always felt that way largely about magic stuff. I mean, even shit that I'm not really interested in. It's been interesting to run into people that are just rolling on entirely different tracks. And so yeah, I don't know. This idea that we all need to be on the same page and then I'm pretending that my track is better than your track, it's the silliest shit.
Fabeku: I just don't get it. Yeah. I can't make sense of that in my head. And it doesn't seem to be true at all in practice. I mean it just seems to be bullshit.
Andrew: Well. Maybe this is a good spot to wrap up today's conversation by saying, “Hey, folks. Go follow where it leads you. Go get inspired about what you're inspired about. And reach share because we're freaking curious about it, even if we're never going to do the same thing because it's just wonderful,” right?
Andrew: For sure.
Aidan: Exactly. All roads lead to Monkey Island.
Andrew: All roads lead to Monkey Island. And if you find-
Aidan: And if you're interested in-
Andrew: … please let us know.
Fabeku: So let us know.
Andrew: [crosstalk 01:15:37] submarine. All right. Aidan, where are you hanging at online these days? Where should people come and connect with you?
Aidan: Aidanwalker.com and then all the various social media stuff; Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I can be found. And if you happen to find this before the 31st at midnight, I'm teaching a class starting the 2nd of February. So registration is open up till the 31st of January midnight.
Andrew: Beautiful. Fabeku?
Fabeku: Fabeku.com and Facebook. That's it.
Andrew: Perfect. And I am @hermitslamp everywhere, or thehermitslamp.com and Instagram being in my point of view, despite all our commentary today at the pinnacle of social media existence. So definitely, come and check me out there. All right, folks. Thanks for taking the time today. I really appreciate it as always.
Fabeku: Thank you.
Aidan: Thank you.
Friday Jan 17, 2020
Friday Jan 17, 2020
Friday Jan 17, 2020
Hey folks. Toni and I talk a lot about connecting and grounding, our lives as readers, the role of science and mystery in this process, and Toni's ideas of the Void! This one goes deep so buckle in for the ride.
Be sure to check out the Patreon bonus too for supporters which includes approaches to experiencing the state of voidness we talk about in the episode.
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.
As always Andrew is here.
You can book time with Andrew through his site here.
Andrew McGregor: Welcome to another episode of the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I'm here today with Toni Puhle. And I met Toni at Readers Studio, which is a big card reader convention event in New York City in the spring every year, and I really enjoyed their approach to working with the cards, because unlike some of the more maybe popular stuff that I was running into or had been running into, Toni is deep into the fortune-telling side, deep into the sort of more European practices and decks like Lenormand and other things that have been going on for a long time, but for some reason never really gained their popularity in North America, but have been doing so in the last number of years. So for those who don't know who you are, Toni, why don't you give us a quick introduction?
Toni Puhle: I am Toni, I'm also known as the Card Geek on social media and founder of the World Divination Association. I teach systems, I teach students around the world how to to read systems like Kipper cards, gypsy cards, and also Lenormand and how to go back to basics and do the predictive-style reads of the old-fashioned fortune tellers. On top of that I teach the spiritual side of life, such as pendulum dowsing, pendulum healing, also symbol healing, all kinds of courses that I have through my years learned and what I ... I tend to teach what is important to me or important to me as a person, and I am a practicing Hoʻoponopono teacher, and if you mix all that in together with a super practical person who loves theoretical physics, who loves the theory of everything and try to break my brain daily on quantum physics, quantum field theory, and how we can actually explain all this amazing spiritual stuff we are doing, but in a super practical way.
Toni Puhle: And then if you throw in some Marvel characters and generally a whole heap of superheroes, you've got a rounded version of who I am. I'm from the UK, you can tell by the tone, but I'm currently living in Munich, Germany, so speaking German and English. So if I do lose a word as we're talking, it's probably because my mind is in German mode.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative), totally fair. Well I'll just remind you and you can be like "Oh yeah, yeah, English."
Toni Puhle: Exactly.
Andrew McGregor: Okay, so very important question.
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: Current favorite Marvel character?
Toni Puhle: Oh, I have so many, I can't choose one. I love Dr. Strange, I love Thor. Iron Man is my all time favorite and-
Andrew McGregor: Of course.
Toni Puhle: ... that will never change.
Andrew McGregor: Yes. Spoiler alert, he saves the world.
Toni Puhle: And I also love Loki, I like both sides of the coin in Marvel.
Andrew McGregor: Nice. Yeah, Marvel stuff gets a lot of play around my house.
Toni Puhle: I also have two boys and I've pushed them in that direction so I can actually watch more.
Andrew McGregor: For sure. Well that's your job as a parent, right?
Toni Puhle: Exactly.
Andrew McGregor: I remember there was a time probably around when my kids started being like five and six where I was like "How about we not watch that, how about we try this instead? Hey look at this Spider-Man thing, hey look at Scooby Doo, these are great."
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: As opposed to some of the other stuff where you're just like, "If I have to listen to that again my head's just going to melt right out of my ears, I can't deal with it," so ...
Toni Puhle: I absolutely love going back with the kids as well, because Lloyd, my eldest, he is sort of a retro kid, he loves to go back to what I used to watch as a kid and then talk through it with me. And we talk daily on the way to school, we talk daily about the theories of Marvel and who or what movies are coming out next and the properties of each superhero and how we would use that property if we had it in our lives, and I think that's also a spiritual side to life where you also consider what you would do if you could.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah, well, and I think that that's one of the parts of magic, right? What would we do if we could, and then how can we?
Toni Puhle: Yes. And that's also throwing the physics in there, because there is the practical sense to it as well, is there any way we can explain how we could possibly do that in the future?
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. My eldest, we always have these conversations after stuff, like the Ant-Man movie where they end up in the "quantum realm," right?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: And my eldest is just like "That's not how it works, that's not even a thing. They just made that up so it'd look good in the movie."
Toni Puhle: But I love it that she thinks that.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah, for sure, right? And they really, it was one of the things that when they started homeschooling, they went to the library and one of the first books they checked out was Quantum Particle Theory.
Toni Puhle: Amazing.
Andrew McGregor: I was just like "That's awesome. You're 10 and that's what you want to read, great." Rock on.
Toni Puhle: Amazing.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative), for sure. So maybe let's start with this. Hoʻoponopono, what is it?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: It's a lovely-sounding word, what does it mean and what's it about?
Toni Puhle: It is. It's actually quite misunderstood, it's called the art of forgiveness. It comes from Hawaii, and I actually learned about it probably eight years ago, maybe more. And I started doing the prayer, and the prayer is quite simple. "I love you, I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you." And like most people who start with Hoʻoponopono, at the beginning I thought I was sending people into balloons or bubbles and light and letting them go into the distance, the art of forgiving other people.
Toni Puhle: But actually when I researched it and started living the Hoʻoponopono prayer, it is about taking responsibility for our actions right now in this moment in time. It's a belief system that we are all one, the collective consciousness if you like, the return to zero, the null state at which we are born in spirit, and then returning to that. Because everything that's incoming these days, all this information, social media especially, everything that's incoming is all something that we deal with, we react to something, and they're actually only physical things in the physical human existence, but if we return or if we can find a way to return to our nullness, our voidness, then we don't need to react. The need has gone, and you react in a very different way than you would have before. You may act angry or you may act hurt. We're taking responsibility for any problem that arises and we're saying "Okay, we're here and we send the prayer up to this nullness, this void."
Toni Puhle: Some people will call it God, other people will call it void, but you send your prayer up and you are taking responsibility for your part of returning to void. And the more we cleanse, the more we return to void. Cleanse is just saying the prayer, technically. More you return to void, and the more even and more neutral you are as a person, I had times where I would have outbursts, et cetera. If I'm in the car and somebody had annoyed me while driving, I was not the calmest person. And it was when I realized that I actually needed to sort me out first, and that's where Hoʻoponopono really sent me on the path of accepting responsibility for me.
Andrew McGregor: I think it's so important, right? I think that we all need to find that understanding of where we are and what we're responsible for and what we control, and all of those things in a way that allows us to be freer to be in the moment, maybe is a good way to put it.
Toni Puhle: Yeah, exactly. And I think also, there is this part of me that does want to break my brain and learn as much as possible, but it's also important to filter out which bit of that learning is important for now.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah, for sure.
Toni Puhle: And taking responsibility for learning the right parts for you, and also taking responsibility to accept that you don't know everything.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, and I think that my question for you then is, right, so if you're returning to null and to void, or whatever we want to call those things, where do you exist in that? What are you in that?
Toni Puhle: I am null and void. I am a part of the void. It's not commonly accepted, and the physics world don't like to hear it, but I strongly believe that quantum field theory will give us more information on the null state, more information on the void state. They call it a field, I call it a void. And I am part of that void, as we all are. My human existence is completely separate to that void at times, when I lose sight of who I really am. But then the ... Sorry, go ahead.
Andrew McGregor: Well, so are you nothing, then? Are you nobody? Are you just that void state?
Toni Puhle: No, I am-
Andrew McGregor: Where's the part of you that is driven to start this World Divination Association? That doesn't sound very null or void. What's that distinction?
Toni Puhle: The distinction is that when you are in null or void, that is when the inspiration comes in. That's when the information comes in that is useful. We're so used to hearing white noise all the time that we can't actually hear, null or void may be the wrong word for it, but we can't actually hear the information that is important. So until I enter my state of null or void, the information that's coming out of me may not be the best information for everybody else.
Toni Puhle: And the WDA was a spark of inspiration. The Kipper book I wrote was something that came to me and I had to do it and I had to do it immediately. And it feels like a drive, and I use the word void because I can't explain it, in my psychic development courses, I can't explain it in any other way than your head has to be empty. There has to be no external information coming in except that spark from above or except that message, if you want to call it a message. So the returning to void is more of a state than a being.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah, it reminds me of the idea that we need to just find that deep, deep silence, right?
Toni Puhle: Yeah.
Andrew McGregor: And we don't just mean, by deep silence we don't just necessarily mean stop thinking, but actually-
Toni Puhle: No.
Andrew McGregor: ... stop identifying with anything, right?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: You know, and there's a meditation that I often do with people where it's like, you go through and sort of dissociate from your body, dissociate from your emotions, dissociate-
Toni Puhle: Exactly that.
Andrew McGregor: ... from your thinking, and your memories and so on and so on and so on, dissociate from the world, and then you get to a place where there's something left. And it's-
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: ... definitely you.
Toni Puhle: That's you, that's what I call void.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Toni Puhle: Personally, and I think people who have or suffer with depression actually understand that feeling a lot better without even realizing it than people who don't. So I think depression has a lot to do with spirituality or where we are on our spiritual journey, and that emptiness isn't ... Sometimes a horrible feeling if you aren't used to it, it is an emptiness, like you say. And there's something leftover, but you're not sure what.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah, I mean, it can be that long Dark Night of the Soul piece, right?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: Like who wrote that, St. John of the Cross? There's a book on that, right? And that place where it's like, you find despair so that you can find the light.
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: But I think that that's one of those touchy areas where it's like, sometimes that's true. Sometimes this world just sucks, right? Or biology or whatever-
Toni Puhle: Sometimes life just sucks.
Andrew McGregor: ... and so there are lots of ways to look at that. So if you're listening to this and that doesn't feel helpful to you, just [crosstalk 00:15:08]-
Toni Puhle: No, this is true.
Andrew McGregor: ... It's a particular kind of relationship to that for sure, in the same way that shamanic sickness or near-death experience for some people and in certain situations can really open up to a similar kind of thing or other kinds of experiences. It doesn't mean that everything is that way. But yeah, for sure.
Toni Puhle: No. And like I said before, I think we have to accept that we don't know everything.
Andrew McGregor: For sure, right?
Toni Puhle: Whatever we talk about, we can talk about until the cows come home, but at the end of the day we can't prove it.
Andrew McGregor: No, for sure. Well, the proof is in the practice, I think, right?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: Is it helpful, is it getting me somewhere, is it helping me move forward? Am I making real change or sustaining the life that I have that I want? I mean I think that to me those are the, the longer I journey on a path with divination and magic and other things, those become the real measures of what seems helpful or important.
Toni Puhle: That's very true, and for one person it'll be different to another person's journey.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative), for sure. For sure. So how did you find Hoʻoponopono living in Germany, or maybe you found it while you were in the UK? Did you visit Hawaii, did someone bring it to you, how did it show up in your [crosstalk 00:16:35]-
Toni Puhle: No, like most things in life, it turned up on my doorstep. I think the paths or the routes that we go down just happen to either turn up or you've made a cosmic order for a certain path to go on, and they show up at your door. And honestly, when I first started reading about it, I used it as a coping mechanism at the time. And it was shortly after I had my first boy, Lloyd, and I think it was more of a getting through the day coping method, and I didn't truly understand it as a lifestyle until recently.
Andrew McGregor: ... Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Toni Puhle: So it was, like everything, it showed up.
Andrew McGregor: Well, and I think that spiritual paths are often like that, right?
Toni Puhle: Yeah.
Andrew McGregor: They take us where we need to go, not necessarily [crosstalk 00:17:51]-
Toni Puhle: Whether we want to or not.
Andrew McGregor: ... whether we expect it or not, right?
Toni Puhle: Exactly.
Andrew McGregor: Like even when we grow up around stuff, I think it's always difficult to truly understand what's going on in someone else's experience, and so as we become a practitioner or a leader or teacher or whatever, it all starts to change and grow and we grow through that too, right?
Toni Puhle: The reason I like Hoʻoponopono for that is because you aren't projecting your ideas on anybody else. The taking responsibility yourself means that you look at the person who's sat opposite you and you aren't seeing them through your own experience, you are seeing them through a, I'll use void again, through a void experience where there are no expectations or no preconceived ideas. And you don't actually need to understand their journey, but you can still play a part in it.
Andrew McGregor: I think that's actually a really interesting point, too. I find when I'm reading for people, there's a sort of idea that people put towards me that I understand everything about them, or even everything that I'm saying, right? And sometimes, there are times where I have a deep level of understanding about it, and then there are times where a peculiar phrase that I wouldn't normally use comes out, or I use a metaphor that I don't remember ever using before. And there's something in that process that emerges that makes a ton of sense to them, but to me I'm kind of like, if someone asks I'm like "I don't know, I just said it. I was just doing the work and letting the work come through me," right?
Toni Puhle: I presume also that you forget those reads very quickly afterwards as well, because you've probably passed on the message that needed to be passed on, and it didn't have to become a part of you.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative), for sure. I forget a lot of readings.
Toni Puhle: I do too.
Andrew McGregor: It's too hard to hold onto them, it's like, I'm just going to just be super loose about this and let it go, and then-
Toni Puhle: I think that's the only way when you do regular readings.
Andrew McGregor: ... Mm-hmm (affirmative), for sure. Okay. So on one side we got the void, and on the other side we've got time, space, and prediction.
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: Right? What's the relationship? For you. Or if you want to share some math or something.
Toni Puhle: I have a super dodgy relationship with predictions and fortune-telling, et cetera, because while I do have this side of void and spiritualism, et cetera, I have this side where I use systems, and I actually use systems for a reason. And I probably haven't shared this many places, but I use systems so I don't have to channel. When I channel, I don't ... I can do it all day long if I want to, but I have built up barriers through the years to stop the channeling happening, because I am more comfortable passing on a predictive read and a fortune-telling read when it's clear in the cards.
Toni Puhle: I think this is this duality within me that I need proof, and the physics side of Toni, and then the void side of me that is letting loose and letting everything happen. So I have this two sides of my relationship with cards and spirit that at times I struggle with, personally, but that's because my physic hat comes on one day and I think "Oh my goodness, how can I tell them that that's going to happen when the only proof I have is a system in front of me?" But I do it anyway, because that's part of being a fortune-teller and part of being a predictive reader. And when I get emails back saying how wonderful and it's amazing that you will predict, because I think a lot of readers these days don't want to predict, they want to use it as a psychological tool or some kind of tool for making people feel better, which is awesome of that's the root or aura person that you are.
Toni Puhle: I'm not that person, I want to know what's going to happen next week when I go to the shop down the corner. I'm quite simple, a quite simple person. I want to know if I'm, for example, moving house this year. I want to know where my journey is going and I want the building blocks along the way. I want to see exactly what's happening. So I do the predictive side of it, and I do have my void side of it where I will channel and I will bring in messages, but I prefer the systems because it's in black and white in front of you, and that's probably the proof that I require for my physics hat person. I require the proof of the system in front of me.
Andrew McGregor: I think that looking for evidence or corroboration in what you're doing is one of the most important parts of doing divination. When I'm reading cards for people, I'm pointing at the cards and I'm saying "Look here, you can see it yourself. Look at what this person's doing. This is you, this is this." When Carrie and I teach mediumship through charm casting, right? We're looking for that corroboration. It's like, well, okay, you want to speak to your grandmother, it's like, "Oh, here's the gardening tool, me and my gran used to spend all our time out back puttering with the flower pots." It's like, okay, now we've got some corroboration, right? Now we've got some evidence.
Toni Puhle: Exactly that.
Andrew McGregor: And I think that channeling and open receiving messages is great too, and there can be evidence in that process as well.
Toni Puhle: There can be.
Andrew McGregor: Depending on who you're working with and how that's coming, but yeah, where there's no evidence, where there's no relationship. Something lovely might be going on there, but I don't actually know and understand what that is, and therefore I'm skeptical.
Toni Puhle: Exactly. I do teach, I can't say I don't do it. I teach automatic writing, I teach all the qualities of becoming a great medium, or some people want to call a great psychic, for the predictive reads. But I think it's super important for that corroboration, but I also think it's important to have a process that you go down for that. So that yes, I do have information coming in, but I make sure that information is coming in when I'm in void. I'm very much controlling my environment and myself so that I have the physics me who is in human existence and controlling it, but then the other side, when I am in void. So I am controlling when I am entering void, and I can do a very practical and physics-minded predictive read using systems, because it's all there in front of you.
Andrew McGregor: So when you're channeling, right, what are you channeling? Nothing? The void? Something else?
Toni Puhle: No, no, sorry. The void that I am in is my free space for messages and for spirit, for ancestors, for any form of fae, garden people, any elementals is probably the better word, or other species. So the void is creating the place for me to do that, it's creating a null zero in me. It's basically my spirit, but not using the words.
Andrew McGregor: Right.
Toni Puhle: It's my free spirit and my free place for people, or people is probably the wrong word, for spirit to come in and give me the information that I need.
Andrew McGregor: Sure. Entities, right?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: Yes. Although some people get nervous with that word, I think it's the best word, to be honest. Because it implies an autonomy that some other words that people choose sometimes get rid of, right?
Toni Puhle: I think the problem with me is that I'm always looking for the right word.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Toni Puhle: And maybe I like void, it's a word that makes sense to me. It doesn't necessarily make sense to anybody else, but it's a word that I've given it that actually makes sense in my existence.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. I mean I think that it makes total sense, right? I think of it this way. When I'm going to work or channel for people, I center myself in a really sort of deep, compassionate place ...
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: And I open up myself to what wants to come through, right? And people always like "Well how do you read the cards?" Or "How do you do whatever?" I'm like "Well, it's psychic, it's ancestors, it's my guide, it's psychology."
Toni Puhle: It happens.
Andrew McGregor: It's my 30-odd years of study, it's blah blah blah, and it's like, I don't seek to control anything around that. I just sort of point it towards the process, right?
Toni Puhle: Yeah, it's more like-
Andrew McGregor: And then what needs to emerge emerges.
Toni Puhle: ... preparing the place, yeah.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah, and it's not about deciding ahead of time, at least for me, well, this is going to be where we're going to be really strictly this way, because I only read one system of cards. All I work with is Marseilles cards, so I don't do anything else with people in general. But one of the things that I love about that deck is that for me, it also is, to steal your word, a void space, right? To me the beauty of the Marseilles is that it will accept all of those things and feed into all of those processes in a way that personally I find other decks harder to hold that energy, because they're more deliberately specific.
Toni Puhle: Yeah, and I think we, you said a really nice thing, that we're holing a space for that. And I explain it sometimes like, when we're born we come in with no expectations, no preconceived ideas, and it's like returning to that state.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Toni Puhle: And that's when the information is incoming or the reader incoming or whatever word you want to put it, the entities are incoming.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative), for sure. So we had a lovely heap of questions that kind of came in on Facebook, and if you listen to the podcast and you don't follow me on Facebook, you might want to, because it gives people the opportunity to pose questions that I look over and try and bring some of them anyway to the thing, to the podcast and to the guest. So a some of the questions seem centered around ideas of measuring or discerning or categorizing different things. Somebody was asking about the ghosts or the spirits in their house, somebody was asking about how do we measure their own energy, and other things along those lines. And so I guess what I want to sort of try and summarize that question as a starting point is, how do you discern the qualities of the energy or the entities that are around you? Or when you're working?
Toni Puhle: The first thing I do is return to void for me, and return to nothingness so I can sense what's around. So the inside me or the spirit of me can actually feel, I guess feel's the wrong word, there aren't words big enough for that. But when it comes to spirit, there are so many different feelings that come attached to them for me personally, and I explain it like personalities.
Andrew McGregor: Yes.
Toni Puhle: So you will have people in your life who just rub you up the wrong way, and sometimes a spirit will come in and they'll do exactly that, they will rub you up the wrong way. Then fae, for example, they come in and it's more of a buzzing mosquito type energy that you are dealing with, and the way I discern what's around or even the energy within the environment that I'm in, I bring myself back down, as you say, your centering, but I bring myself down where I can feel what level that energy is at.
Toni Puhle: And once I discern what level it's at, whether it's a high vibration or a lower vibration ... I work with pendulums, obviously, the word vibration, obviously I work with vibrational healing as well. And so an entity will come in for me with a vibration, and it is that vibration that I then, I detect it, but then I also assimilate to it, so that my energy can then accept the energy that's incoming or can accept them in order to receive a message or in order to understand why.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And do you categorize them, good and bad?
Toni Puhle: I don't categorize them in good or bad, I think there's a fine line between good and bad, and I-
Andrew McGregor: But if you're working with the fae, there's no line, there's just chaotic, right? Or whatever, right?
Toni Puhle: That's exactly what I-
Andrew McGregor: There's no morality, per se.
Toni Puhle: ... That's exactly what I teach. And they really don't like me at times, they can be really onerous, the-
Andrew McGregor: Sure.
Toni Puhle: ... fae, to deal with, and they aren't really fond of me. But I-
Andrew McGregor: When you were talking about sort of spirits, I think you said something like spirits in your garden or whatever, right? But the first thought that came to me was the idea, what's the message? "Get off my land." They're like "Why'd you build this crap here? Get out of here. Why isn't it wild?"
Toni Puhle: ... I had a problem when I moved in this house at the beginning, because I stepped over some lines in the garden. And my youngest can actually see elementals, and he saw quite a few in the garden who weren't really pleased with our presence.
Andrew McGregor: Right.
Toni Puhle: But going back to good, bad, dark, light, it's all a different level or a different vibration, and I deal in vibrations rather than what's good or what's bad. If something has a vibration that I am uncomfortable with, it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. I have had higher beings, I don't know what you want to call them, come in who actually, your instant reaction is "Oh my God, what on earth is this?" But it's a being that can help you on your path, not necessarily something who's there to do harm.
Andrew McGregor: One of the things that I find myself more and more interested in when I'm talking to people around this kind of work these days is people are very focused on what is the message, right?
Toni Puhle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andrew McGregor: Which is 100% understandable. But I'm actually always really curious about why this is going on. Especially if it's a more negative, for that person, experience, right? I'm like "Well, that's cool that this thing," or uncool or unpleasant or whatever it is, right, "That's interesting that there's this thing happening, and you're having an unpleasant experience with it," and certainly we can deal with that, there are plenty of ways to resolve that.
Andrew McGregor: But what I'm most interested in, because I'm like, "Why is that happening? What's the mechanism that's causing that to occur?" Because these things, they're not random. It's very rare that a person strolls down the street and acquires a random thing, if people walk down the street and acquire a random thing, it's because of something in their energy that permits that or encourages that.
Toni Puhle: Yeah.
Andrew McGregor: But they're also not necessarily destined in the way that people also talk about that, right? People are like "Well, it just had to be that this thing showed up at this time to make this happen." It's like maybe, possibly, but often there are other reasons at play. So I'm always really fascinated at sort of the mechanisms of why that happened, why has it happened now, what are the situations that brought this about? It's like your physics mind, right? It's my sleuth mind, I'm like "Okay" ...
Toni Puhle: What I don't understand is why everybody thinks there's always a message, or why they always have to be sent to the light. There's instant reaction, "Oh, we need to get rid of them." And again, going back to my beliefs in quantum physics, the field theory, I really think it has something to do with fields, and the filed in which spirit are, the field in which we are, coexisting somehow. I obviously can't explain it until a good physicist pulls his finger out, but I did actually write into a podcast and ask one of these CERN physicists why or how we can explain this quantum entanglement and whether that could explain me doing something and then it having a ripple effect at your end, for example. They answered, but they don't know the answer.
Andrew McGregor: For sure.
Toni Puhle: So I want to know why. I'm like you, I don't necessarily need to hear a message.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah. I think that this idea of messages and the universe constantly talking to us and so on, it is and it isn't, but I think that it's, why would it be different than all the input of ... I live in Toronto, I live in a very big, metropolitan center, right? There's a constant input of information, right?
Toni Puhle: Yes, that's exactly it.
Andrew McGregor: 99.99% of it is noise.
Toni Puhle: That's exactly it.
Andrew McGregor: Some days 100% of it is noise.
Toni Puhle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andrew McGregor: It's not for me-
Toni Puhle: That's right.
Andrew McGregor: ... I'm just around and it's happening.
Toni Puhle: And that's where Hoʻopo comes back in again, because it is that white noise, that constant white noise. And whether it's white noise from spirits or white noise on the physical level of life, it is still white noise. And only when we are free of all that constant information can we actually hear what we need to hear.
Andrew McGregor: Mm-hmm (affirmative). For sure, right? So a lot of the questions, the other thing here was this question, right, or this idea of intention in the questions. A lot of questions that sort of centered around how intentions impact readings, how does being clear about intention affect the process, so on and so on. How does, for you, right, so the void state is, sounds like a very neutral state, right?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: You're not actively generating anything, because you want to sort of be-
Toni Puhle: Received.
Andrew McGregor: ... be present, and/or receive, right?
Toni Puhle: Mm-hmm (affirmative), true.
Andrew McGregor: So what's the active component of that, what's the intention component around your practice or your life in that?
Toni Puhle: I teach to nail down intention so far so as if you were a lawyer.
Andrew McGregor: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Toni Puhle: So I am a huge Judge Judy fan, and I will watch her just to see how she nails down people so they can't give a squiffy answer. But the reason I do that is not because of going against void or anything like that, it's because you can't go wrong. If you have asked a clear question, you can expect what kind of answer. So when you are learning to read cards, when you are learning to do anything, if you are clear in your intention, it's for you only, it's you that wants the answer. So you are doing it for yourself to make sure that there is not an inch of leverage in the cards and their interpretation so that you can be 100% sure that you've nailed that predictive read. Because if your intention is skewy in the first place, it's for your mind only. How can your mind be understanding an answer if it hasn't been clear on what it's asking?
Andrew McGregor: So number one, go watch Judge Judy everybody, get yourself an education.
Toni Puhle: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew McGregor: I love it. There are lots of things that are ... I learn from so many different places. And I remember way back in the sort of newsless days of the internet, I was on this Thelemic group and there was this person there who, I don't know, they had a PhD in something or other, and all they would do though was they would just read people's posts, and then explain the logical fallacy in their statement, right?
Toni Puhle: Okay.
Andrew McGregor: And I spent a long time reading a lot of posts from this person, and taking notes, literally, I'd be like "Oh, that's a neat one, what's that one? That's a neat one, what's that? Oh look, this is where I do that," until I started seeing them in the rest of my life, the logical fallacies. Because we think that we are, it's easy to feel clear, it's easy to think that we know what we're asking or how we're asking it, right?
Toni Puhle: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andrew McGregor: But it's so woodgy-woodgy in our brains, like it's not as crystal clear as we think at all.
Toni Puhle: I also think, too, because I speak, well, three languages, I think when you are a language-speaker you understand the nuances in language a lot more than somebody who is just a pure English speaker. That does not bemean in any way, I just mean you understand that there aren't words that exactly incorporate the meaning of what you're trying to intend or come across with.
Andrew McGregor: For sure.
Toni Puhle: So what our intention is may not be clear to somebody who's sat next to us, which means, in turn, it may not be clear when we lay the cards. So if we learn how to formulate our language as if it were a legal document, then you are covering all the bases to make sure that you have clarity when it comes to the answer.
Andrew McGregor: That makes a ton of sense to me. It reminds me of, there's an author called Milan Kundera, wrote a book called The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but they wrote other books, I can't remember the specific ones now. But a lot of their books sort of start with this thing, they're like "Well, if you spoke Czech, there's this word. And this word kind of means this." And then the whole story is an explanation of that, and when they circle back a the end of the book and be like "See? Blah. This word."
Toni Puhle: Yeah. Well I've noticed it most in speaking German, obviously. They will speak English with a different nuance than I will speak German. There will be the same words when you look at them in the dictionary, but they mean different things, they feel different. So when you say one word in English and you say the translation in German, it will feel different, and that means the message is already on a different level.
Andrew McGregor: No, for sure. Yeah, absolutely. So intention as clarity of question, right?
Toni Puhle: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes.
Andrew McGregor: Intention as clarify of self around question.
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: And Judge Judy will teach us the way.
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: I feel like we need to make some saint candles for Judge Judy now. "Please Judge Judy, give me the clarity to ask a solid question and get a solid answer."
Toni Puhle: I watch her just so I can see how she nails them down.
Andrew McGregor: For sure, right? And I think that that's such an interesting and helpful process. When I read for people, there's definitely these times where they ask this question and I'm like "So what I hear in your question is that you want me to tell you that everything's going to be okay." And then they're like "Well, maybe." I'm like "Well, that's 100% fair. Welcome to being human, we all have that. But also if we open the cards, I can't tell you what we're going to see."
Toni Puhle: I think it's-
Andrew McGregor: We're going to see what we see.
Toni Puhle: ... similar to, I have a few pet hates. They're not really hates at all, but there are questions that I think a newbie who is reading shouldn't use at the beginning, because it harms their future predictive reads. For example, "Should I do something?"
Andrew McGregor: Yes.
Toni Puhle: Who is to say whether you should or you shouldn't? Who is spirit to decide what you should or shouldn't do?
Andrew McGregor: Well, I have an idea about that.
Toni Puhle: Go ahead.
Andrew McGregor: So I actually love that question.
Toni Puhle: Really?
Andrew McGregor: Yes. Right? But, I love that question because of my religious practice. So as a priest in the Lucumi tradition, in Afro-Cuban lineage who has studied and practices divination within that system and so on, the idea of should we do this thing rests in the beliefs that we have some kind of destiny, that we're not here with an open-ended clean slate of everything that anything could be on target, but only certain parts of the buffet are actually in a real deep level of alignment with who we are and why we chose to incarnate at this time.
Andrew McGregor: So for me, the should question, especially in the religious context, is one that makes a bunch of sense to me, because I feel like there are things that at certain decisions we should and shouldn't do if we want to stay in alignment with that actual purpose.
Toni Puhle: But is that not in line with your own guide and already having the relationship and the knowledge of your guides, who they are, who your ancestors are, and this long learning process of understanding who they are and that they are working in your best interest, rather than somebody who's coming to the table and asking the "Should I?" question and not knowing who they are requesting that information from.
Andrew McGregor: I mean I think it really depends on what the nature of the should is, or the nature of that question is. I was just talking about this with my elder recently, because we were talking about the context in which me making sure that I'm divining about stuff makes sense for me in the coming year, because of what came out in the reading. And it makes sense for me to think about all those things, it makes sense for me to be clear about them. It makes a ton of sense to not use the should question as a scapegoat or permission or abdication of control ...
Toni Puhle: Yeah, exactly that, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andrew McGregor: But it comes to a place where there are things that are beyond knowing, we butt up against that mystery, and does it make sense for me to make this change in my business in a certain direction? And I have a bunch of ideas-
Toni Puhle: But you see, that's a slight nuance in question, asking whether it makes sense to do something rather than asking for the permission to do something.
Andrew McGregor: ... I don't think of should ... I think that some people use should questions-
Toni Puhle: Maybe it's a language thing again.
Andrew McGregor: ... Well, I think some people use should questions as point of permission, right?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: "Should I break up with Betty?" Look, if you don't like Betty, break up with Betty.
Toni Puhle: Exactly.
Andrew McGregor: Just get over it. If you're already asking that question, there's something you need to figure out there and the cards don't need to tell you that. But I think that there are lots of questions that, "Should I do this thing?" We could phrase them in different ways, "Is this in alignment with my true self to do this?" So on, right? "Is this the time for this to happen?" But for me should, and by the time I get to a should question, it's only those things. It's only the level of question.
Toni Puhle: Well that's perfect for me as long as you have that understanding already. I think it's coming to the table and asking permission to do something that I ... The only reason I see it as an issue in new readers is because they see it as a strict yes or no, "Yes you should," "No, you shouldn't." And there is, then, in the answer, it's often unclear, then, to a new reader, whether the cards are positive 100% yes or whether they are a nuance of yes, or whether they are a strict no. And I think the intention when they sit down to ask those questions when starting colors the read, then, afterwards with their own emotional projection or on ... It allows a looser read, or allows emotions to come in.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah. I'm definitely with you. If you're going to ask a question like that, there's no space for ambiguity-
Toni Puhle: No.
Andrew McGregor: ... in the question, in the process. There's no space for open-endedness. It's like look, I'm going to do this or I'm not. Am I going to do it?
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: Does it make sense, yes or no? And that's where diligence and discipline ...
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: In the reading of the cards. Because for me it's like, if I'm going to ask a yes or no question, I'm only going to read the cards in a certain way. I might go do another spread if I want other information.
Toni Puhle: That is it, exactly that.
Andrew McGregor: But I'm like, that's it.
Toni Puhle: And actually, in my book, I used the yes and no question, which uses the least cards in the deck, I did it as an advanced spread in the back of the book for the reason that they have to, or readers have to understand that there is a difference in the way that you're reading.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah. And just to pull it full circle, maybe, I think that your capacity, anyone's capacity to be good at those kinds of questions rests on your ability to be clear about what you're asking and your ability to be centered in what you would call the void space.
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: Right, or what I would call [crosstalk 00:54:23] different-
Toni Puhle: Yes to that.
Andrew McGregor: ... because if you can do those two things, then you can rocket out with that stuff.
Toni Puhle: 100%.
Andrew McGregor: But if you can't do those things, then it's like, you're moving towards my metaphor of how Ouija boards work for people who don't have a lot of experience with spirits, right? It's like, pick the busiest town square that you got, go there, put on a blindfold, and then out loud ask for an answer to your question. Wait for somebody to tell you, and then wait a while and leave, never knowing who that was. Who was that person? Do they have something valuable to add?
Toni Puhle: It's also similar to dowsing, because we all can influence the outcome of dowsing by our own experiences, and carrying that into the question.
Andrew McGregor: Yep, yep. And our subconscious and shadow have direct control to our nervous system, so therefore it's pretty easy for unresolved stuff to make its way there too, right?
Toni Puhle: Exactly.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah.
Toni Puhle: Yes.
Andrew McGregor: So it's been great chatting with you today, but I think we're kind of hitting the point where we should start wrapping this up though, even though I think I could sit and chat with you all day. It's going to just sound like this "I agree with you. Yes, I agree with you."
Toni Puhle: I agree.
Andrew McGregor: "I agree with you."
Toni Puhle: Definitely.
Andrew McGregor: So people should definitely be following you and checking out where you're at and stuff. Where should they come? Where's the best place for people to find you on the internets?
Toni Puhle: I'm all over social media as @TheCardGeek is my hashtag, and if you look for the World Divination Association, you will find me on most platforms.
Andrew McGregor: Excellent. Well thank you so much for taking the time today, and for ... Yeah. Organizing your schedule.
Toni Puhle: Thank you for having me.
Andrew McGregor: Yeah, my pleasure.
Friday Dec 27, 2019
Friday Dec 27, 2019
Friday Dec 27, 2019
This is the 6th annual episode with Barbara. Andrew and Barbara talk about making change. The challenges in trying to notice the end before feels like it has gone too far past us. The talk about the last year and the grand changes that are coming for both of them in 2020.
They also recorded a bonus for the Patreon on how to tell if something is fate or not. You can get access to that and all the great bonus material by signing up over here.
You can catch all the previous episodes here on my website. Or look up episodes 22, 44, 58, 72, and 90 where you listen to your podcast.
Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here.
You can find Barbara through her website 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.
ANDREW: [00:00:02] Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. This week I am catching up with Barbara Moore just before the end of the year for our annual podcast episode where we check in on what's going on, what's changed, and, [00:00:17] you know, talk a lot about the shifting perspectives in our spiritual lives and practices and so on. You know, it's hard to imagine people don't know who you are, Barbara, certainly anyone in the tarot world, but for those who don't, who are you? [00:00:32]
BARBARA: Oh, I forgot about this part of the interview. Yes. My name is Barbara Moore. I've been playing with tarot for, I don't know, maybe 30 years now. I'm probably best known for [00:00:47] a couple of things: one, creating tarot decks and writing books to go with them, and a few stand alone books as well, and I'm also the tarot acquisitions editor for Llewellyn, and I sometimes do some work for Lo Scarabeo as well. [00:01:02] And I teach here and there.
ANDREW: So, I mean, I guess, you know, one of the things that I wanted to talk about with you was, it seems like [00:01:17] for me, everything's changed, you know, since our last podcast, I have gotten divorced, and my ex has moved out. I had a fire that burned down my store, and I have since reopened and, you know, opened a studio [00:01:32] to see clients out of and opened a new store. And, so for me, it’s been a massive year of change, you know, perhaps unsurprisingly, if you follow the tarot birth card, year card business, as my death card just ended [00:01:47] at the beginning of the month, but it's also been a year of or at least a time of change for you too, right? Like you're also, maybe not quite where I am on the other side of it, but really sort of [00:02:02] setting in motion a bunch of change for yourself as well. Right?
BARBARA: [00:02:17] That is absolutely true. The cycle of change, I would say it started back in 2016, and it has ushered in a period of challenge and becoming stronger and having things ripped away to find out what really matters, [00:02:33] and, as your listeners, if they've been listening to our conversations know, that two years ago, I moved to California, my wife and I moved to California, and we've been having a great adventure as [00:02:48] well as a lot of challenges and struggles. And we have recently come to the conclusion that this has been a really fun adventure, and we're grateful that we had it, but it's time for the adventure to be over, and so we [00:03:03] will be moving sometime this summer. So that is a really big change that we can talk about. It's not like having a store burn down or having a divorce, a relationship, a marriage end, [00:03:20] but our relationship also has gone through some struggles, luckily came out the other end stronger and better, richer and deeper, but it's still, we’re both like two different people now, so it's [00:03:35] almost like a new relationship because we're learning to be together in new ways.
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, you know and one of the . . . one of the things that people always say is something like what you said, whenever they start talking with [00:03:50] their own things, like, it's not as bad as your situation or whatever, right? And, I mean, on the one hand, yeah, maybe, right, like I get that, but also I think it's . . . I think it's really real, [00:04:05] how difficult struggle is for people, right? And you know, I mean there is tragedy and loss and people dying and all, you know, all those kinds of things that you know, no joke are very difficult. Right? [00:04:21] But I think that it's really important to not diminish our own struggles too, especially in the face of that. Right? Like it's, there's no scale. There's no competition, you know? And maybe other people [00:04:36] feel differently, if they're in positions like mine, but I actually feel like just relating around stuff is so much better than when it starts to kind of slide into, you know, areas where it's like, [00:04:51] well, it's not as bad as your life, but you know, whatever. It's like, yeah, that doesn't feel so great. And now I feel like there's a sort of other element to it, that isn't, doesn't need to be there, you know?
BARBARA: Like a competition [00:05:06] or something.
ANDREW: Yeah, a competition, or a sense of apology, you know? I mean, I feel like if, if I know somebody well enough to talk about my life and their life, then we're on the same ground, right, you know? And everybody, I think [00:05:21] everybody understands that some things are more difficult than others, from a certain perspective, you know, but, but either way, I think it's . . . I think it's important to sort of just keep that relationship open, you know, and not, [00:05:37] I don't know, create that distance that sometimes comes with that for me.
BARBARA: Yeah, yeah, that's a really interesting point. Like, how did we, as a people start doing that, because it really is a habit and I feel like it's a little bit like social [00:05:52] behavior niceties, because when I'm not talking publicly, like on a podcast, I would talk about what I went through in terms of now that I'm through it and I can see the other [00:06:07] side when I look back on it, it was so hard I don't even know how I got up every day.
BARBARA: You know, so to say to you, "Oh, it wasn't so bad." When, if I talk to you privately, I would be like, "Oh my God, I don't know how I did that," you know . . . so, you were right. We [00:06:22] are on equal terms here. It's been hard.
ANDREW: Yeah, you know, and life is difficult, right? You know, I mean not all the time. Luckily there's great things, you know? I mean, one of the things that was interesting was being at the tail end of the summer, [00:06:37] and I was checking in with the kids, just before they went back to school this year, and I'm like, “How was your summer?” Right? And they were, they both gave it like rave reviews. And they were like, “Well, how was your summer, Dad?" And I was like, I'm like, you know, [00:06:52] “I don't give it an 8 a 10, and like those two missing points are cause like, relaunching the store during the summer was a ton of work and very stressful, you know? And like, just dealing with all the stuff that came with that was very stressful.” [00:07:07] And I was like, “Man, I'm doing pretty good at having a good time despite all this, you know, horrible stuff that's gone on and all the stress that comes with it,” right? You know?
But that also doesn't mean that there weren't days where I was like, “Oh my God, I have no idea, is that just [00:07:22] it, is this, you know, am I done having a store, is this over? Is that over?” You know, it's . . . Yeah, it's complicated when we lose that direction, right? I think it's . . . I think it's been challenging. And I think it's been a long time that you've been [00:07:38] sort of wrestling with this sense of direction, you know.
ANDREW: I'm thinking about . . . We talked somewhere in one of the past episodes about, probably before you moved out there, right? When I did that impossible reading for you, and you were like, “Oh, yeah, I'm [00:07:53] going to do all these things now,” you know? It's been, it's been a quite a while in some ways, I think, right?
BARBARA: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah, I have, especially in terms of my tarot . . . well, in a lot of areas in my life, but in terms of my tarot career, [00:08:08] I have felt really lost. So, so lost and I . . . and there are a lot of elements to that. One, I should have wrote notes. [00:08:23] One thing that changed is I wasn't working with tarot for myself. Well, I wasn't reading for other people either. I quit doing that a while ago for, mostly because I didn't feel like I had enough [00:08:38] to bring, to give, I wasn't, my cup wasn't full. I couldn't fill anyone else’s cup and I wasn't working with the cards for myself.
So, starting in January, I started pulling a card a day, because that's like, what you tell beginners [00:08:53] to start and I would do it and I'd mark it in my daily journal and, but, and never did anything with them and so finally, but it was enough. I mean, I had, all I had energy to do was that. [00:09:08] And that was a start. I was touching my cards again and that mattered. Then when things started, mmm, taking an upturn, I added something like, "Okay, I want this daily draw to do [00:09:23] something more than just get marked down in my book and mean nothing, but use ink," and so I decided to start pulling two cards a day. And making them mean something.
So the first card was [00:09:38] some energy that I was going to find myself into that day, you know, whether it was something that happened or my added something, just, just the energy of the day, something, and then with an eye to improving myself, [00:09:53] or becoming the person I want to be, more than I am. I pulled another card: "How can I interact with this energy?" To do that. And that has been super helpful. [00:10:08] That's made a big difference and made things more active for me in terms of like, doing something with the cards. So, you know, that's just a little thing but it's made a big, big difference. [ping from phone] I am so sorry about [00:10:24] . . .
ANDREW: Well, that's okay.
BARBARA: And I also had been thinking a lot about, like, I had been questioning the whole doing readings thing. Right? What do we do readings [00:10:39] for? What's the purpose? Oh, these mundane readings about our everyday problems. How boring is that? Or is that even the right thing to do? I mean, just very angsty, kind of pointless, spinning my wheels questioning, [00:10:54] and then, you know, when I was thinking about, we were going to talk, and I'd thought I'd like to talk about that, and I had a kind of a revelation. I'm not sure if it's going to stick, but it's a thought, that because I [00:11:09] want to do readings about different things, or in different ways, or with a different focus. I had to denigrate those readings, for some reason, you know, I think maybe it's human nature sometimes to make ourself feel better and more confident, we have to put [00:11:24] down something else for whatever reason. And so, even just that thought made me feel a lot better about things like, "Oh, well, just because I don't want to do that and just because I want to do this, [00:11:40] that doesn't mean the other is bad. I don't have . . ." You know? I mean, does that make any sense?
ANDREW: I do.
ANDREW: Yeah, you know, maybe a year, two years ago, [00:11:55] I was sitting during my, you know, not daily draw, but regular draws, and I was like, writing in my journal, and I found myself writing something like, "Well, when I'm free, blah blah blah [00:12:10] blah blah," right?
ANDREW: And, and I, for whatever reason, on that day, as opposed to the various other days when I'd written something similar, I stopped and I looked at it. And I was like, [00:12:25] “Well, when is that going to be? And what does that look like?” Right? And I'm like, you know, at the time I was in an open relationship without a huge amount of limits on it. I mean some, but not, you know, I'm like, it's pretty darn free, I'm like, [00:12:40] you own your own store and you work for yourself. Like, what, what is it that other people are defining for you or that are limiting for you, right? You know? And the answer became pretty clear that it was very [00:12:55] little, right? Not nothing. But very little, right? I still have to pay taxes, I still have to, you know, whatever, there are certain things, but . . . And, I spent a lot of time sort of chewing on that for a while and realizing how [00:13:10] how often, movement, change, you know, these ideas were sort of created on continuing to define myself in relationship to other things [00:13:25] that actually had no sway or real say over my life, right?
You know, I mean if I, if I decided, you know, I mean, I'm a, I'm a very fortune-teller-oriented card reader, but if I decided that I had enough of [00:13:40] that, and all I wanted to do was psychological readings, I could just change my website and filter people based on that and inform them, when they tried to book that, you know, this was the process going forward and that would be it.
Like there's, there wasn't a lot of [00:13:55] things that prevented me from the various things that I was sort of waiting to become free enough to do. And so, since then I've spent a lot of time keeping my, keeping my definition and directions [00:14:10] in check, right? Like really looking at them, and saying, “Okay, am I, am I defining this relationally? Am I in relationship with some idea that I'm not actually interested in or don't want to live by," and so on, you know, and it's, [00:14:25] it's not always easy, but I think it's really helpful. Right? So look at those pieces and say, you know, your practice has no bearing on day-to-day type questions, right? Your practice doesn't need to have any relationship to the way I read or other people read [00:14:40] or the, you know, the whims of the tarot community and, you know, this year, next year, or 10 years from now, you know.
BARBARA: Yep. Yeah, knowing [00:14:55] what you want, cleanly, and being realistic about it, and not just finding excuses, that takes a lot of self-reflection and honesty, [00:15:10] but will really make a big difference.
BARBARA: In how you feel about your life in this moment.
ANDREW: So, how do you, how do you generate that self-reflection? [00:15:25] You're talking about tarot, as one part, your tarot practice this year. How else do you talk--how else do you figure out? Because andone of the things that I think is--yeah, it's a bit of a theme, I think, with some episodes, it comes [00:15:40] up in various places, but this idea of like, how do you know when you're done? Right? How do you know when enough's enough? How do you notice that change, mark that change? You know? And so on, right?
BARBARA: Yeah. [00:15:55] And, hmmm . . . Like, if we could come up with a format, a step-by-step format, on how to get yourself to that spot, we could probably be millionaires. Because everyone wants to know that, I [00:16:10] think. Because, at least for me, I have not come up with a method that, like, walks me to the spot where I can step over the line out of, you know, the mists of confusion into clarity. [00:16:26] I don't have that. For me, it has been, it has felt like waking up.
BARBARA: Like, like I've been either asleep or underwater [00:16:41] or walking through Jello or something. And I don't realize it at the time for that. I mean, I know I don't feel right, I know I feel confused and unhappy, no energy, but [00:16:56] I don't really fully understand that state of being asleep or underwater until I start coming out of it. And then I see it. And then I start thinking, [00:17:12] I don't have to be that way anymore.
BARBARA: And so, when I can, it's like this pivotal point, this space where, like, a liminal space between what has been going on and what could be and [00:17:27] I have this opportunity to keep behaving the way I had been or changing the behavior. But before that, I don't know that I could have changed the behavior. I don't know that I was in a place where I could have [00:17:42] done that.
BARBARA: So, for me, it's this point where . . . Or at least how it feels for me right now, is, I can't wait to get started on the next phase and [00:17:57] I haven't had that excitement, energy, or enthusiasm in two years. So how . . . But how do I know? It's, it's, it's vague. I don't have . . . well, maybe as we keep talking, I'll think of more concrete things.
BARBARA: But, to start the conversation, [00:18:13] it, that's what it feels like for me. What's that feel like for you?
ANDREW: I mean, lately, so like in the last year, I've been noticing [00:18:29] where I'm not putting energy, that I officially think that I'm putting energy right? Where do I feel a difference between, you [00:18:44] know, something that I'm excited about, you know? It doesn't, it doesn't make it difficult for me. It's not difficult for me to show up and make art in my studio. You know, making art is great. I mean, [00:18:59] it requires, it requires having some time, you know, and it requires, you know, ideally not having sick kids at home or whatever, like certain things, but it's pretty easy to make that commitment. [00:19:15]
You know, I've been sort of in and out of relationship in terms of polyamory this year a bit, and one of the things that I noticed around some of that was, where I was [00:19:30] willing to put in a certain kind of effort or show up in a certain way in one situation, but not in another. You know, and to me, that starts to be like, okay, so if I'm, if I'm willing to make the extra time or [00:19:46] hang out with them if they're sick or, you know, whatever, but with somebody else, I'm not feeling that as much, then those kinds of decisions start to be little flags for me. It's like, not necessarily that it's the end, but it's, something needs to change there, right? Or something has changed [00:20:01] there, and I need to sort of look at that. Right? And I think that, I don't know that we ever notice the moment, right? Like I don't know if there's a, you know, barring like, really, you know: And I said something and then they smack me in the face and I said [00:20:16] "We're done," like, you know, unless it's, like, ridiculous and dramatic, which is, you know, never really my life. I don't think that we ever notice explicitly those moments. I think that we notice, we can notice [00:20:31] when we're wobbling along that line, and then we can sort of reflect and see what's coming. Or what makes sense from that point, you know?
BARBARA: Right. Yes. Yeah. Yes, you're right. It's, it is hard [00:20:46] in these things to pick a point, as you said, and for most of it’s probably more like a process, you know, that it takes some time and, but, sometimes even within that process you can find like little mini points, you know, [00:21:01] like, I remember, I remember admitting to myself . . . Because we'd already started talking about how California wasn't right for us.
BARBARA: And, so, the next question was, where do we go next?
ANDREW: [00:21:16] Mm-hmm. Is the answer Tijuana?
BARBARA: The answer is not Tijuana.
BARBARA: I found myself not being super excited about thinking about where to go next.
BARBARA: I knew I didn't want to be here. Didn't know where I want [00:21:31] to go So, I kind of made myself think about that, and in that moment, I had this realization that hit me very hard: I want to go home. [00:21:47] And that was hard to admit, and hard to feel, and hard to know, because I knew it wasn't going to fly for us, for us, my marriage, my, our family, our little, just the two of us were a family. [00:22:04] Because we didn't want the winters. We . . . The winters in Minnesota are just too, too, too much and we're not ready for that. But just knowing that, one of the things I learned during this adventure is my family [00:22:19] and my Minnesota friends are very important to me, like more important to me than I knew before I left.
BARBARA: And so that little, and that, so that was a mini, like, you know, moment. [00:22:35] And then, like, when I actually told Dylan that, that was another moment, because it was scary to say that, you know, for me, because it was like, I can't believe I'm gonna say this. Because one fear was, what if she says, “Okay, let's go [00:22:50] home,” and then I'm stuck in Minnesota winter again! But anyways, so, yeah, these little mini moments of, you know, revelation. Oh, and another thing that I have noticed. I don't know if you've had this too. But now that I feel like [00:23:05] I'm being more honest with myself, that we’re on, we have some more clear direction on what the future is going to look like, synchronicities are happening.
Like, I can barely like, take a breath without something, like [00:23:20] helping me feel like I'm on the right path. You know, and I've heard people talk about that, like well, if you're looking for it, of course, you're going to find it. You know, like cynics might say that. And other people might say, [00:23:35] “Well, yeah, that's a sign that you're on the right path.” I don't know if I'd quite go that far, because I'm not sure what I believe about the right path thing.
BARBARA: Fate and destiny, that's going to be a focus of study this coming year. I'm very excited about it.
ANDREW: [00:23:50] Well, you know, it's funny. I have those as listed, at the top of my list of things I want to follow up on in this conversation: agency, force, death, destiny, and free will. So we can, [00:24:05] we can set some explorations on it in this conversation and then, you know, a year from now we can report back as to where it's gotten. So yeah.
BARBARA: Absolutely. Totally. Yes, right. So synchronicities, you know, [00:24:20] they always, I find them comforting, and encouraging, so whether they're actually real or not, it doesn't matter to me right now. I'm taking my comfort where I can get it. It's helping.
ANDREW: So, and I think that, [00:24:35] first of all, I think, you know, as the song says, you know, whatever gets you through the night. Like, I think that finding comfort where we can is always, you know, as long as it's not too self-destructive. [00:24:51] I think it's always a great move, right? I think that, you know, this year of sort of moving through the fire and doing that has definitely been a year of more indulging- and comfort-orientated behavior [00:25:07] than is usual for me. And I'm just like, you know what? Life is fricking hard right now, so I'm not going to worry about that too much. And I'm just going to, you know, lean into that wherever and whenever I need to, you know, so there's been [00:25:22] more naps, more ice cream, and more TV this year than would normally be a thing for me, because sometimes that, you know, for me anyway, that's part of getting through these times, right?
ANDREW: I think that, you know, [00:25:38] so, synchronicities are a thing that I am very interested in, especially because it's often touted as the explanation of how tarot works, also, right. You shuffle the cards and the universe [00:25:54] through synchronicity arranges them in a way that is meaningful. And, you know, it's kind of, it's kind of fine and fun as an answer unless you try and like [00:26:09] say, “What does synchronicity mean? How exactly does that function? And you know, is there anything behind that?” And then all of a sudden you just like slide into utter chaos of inexplicable mystery, right? And I think that that's fine. I have, for me, I'm [00:26:24] like, you know, mystery is the answer, right? I'm like, tarot runs on mystery. That's all we need to know about it.
ANDREW: Exactly, exactly, right? But, so, I think [00:26:39] that synchronicity is, you know, lots of people are really into numerology, and, you know, they're like . . . I've, you know, people come for readings, like, "I've been seeing lots of triple eight lately, or triple this, or triple . . ." [00:26:54] And I'm always like, "Well, that's cool. What does it mean?" And you know, it . . . And then they'll often say a thing followed by the question, which is usually, “So when is that going to manifest?” Right? [00:27:09] And so, you know, and I don't mean this to make fun of people, like I'm not at all, right? Like absolutely, there are those moments where like, “Oh, there's a sign. Okay, where's the, where's the product?” Right? “Where's, where's the actual outcome of that?”
So, [00:27:24] sort of more and more over time, I've been, I've been looking at what it is that I believe, how I approach things, and thinking about . . . [00:27:39] You know, people always ask me, like, well, so “What's the, what's the astrology in the Orisha tradition?” Right? “What's the astrology in your Orisha practice?” And I'm like, there is none, it doesn't exist. Right? It's not a part of it at all. There's no, no consideration [00:27:54] given to it in any real sense. There, there is, notions around times of day, a bit, depending on what we're talking about, and if you practice in a syncretized kind [00:28:09] of way with the saints, then maybe certain Orishas have their day, right? You know, where many people celebrate them extra, but there is no astrology. And, and I've been noticing the sort [00:28:24] of growing tension for me between, like, astrology, which I stopped reading this year, and stepped away from and decided that I was going to actively not engage any more, and [00:28:39] the way in which I was feeling stressed and tense around that stuff some, and the fact that it's not actually a part of my religious practice at all. Right?
And I'm kind of the same with, like, some of the [00:28:54] synchronicity stuff, you know? There have been times in my life where I was very intense on that kind of stuff and, you know, thought about it and wrote about it, had a bunch of experiences with it. And now there's [00:29:09] basically only one symbol from the universe that I'm interested in. Well, there's a couple. One, but the synchronous thing, or the thing that I think fits this way, is if I find a playing card on the street, [00:29:24] then for me, that's a message, and I will interpret the card based on my knowledge of reading them and we'll go from there. Right?
The other thing that is synchronous, you know, from a certain perspective, but I see it as more directly as a message [00:29:39] from spirit, which kind of has a different definition in my mind. So, like, three months ago, maybe a little less, I broke up [00:29:54] with someone that I'd been with for a long time. We decided to change the nature of our relationship. And it was very kind and very honest. And you know, and the relationship has changed into [00:30:10] a really good friendship, which is lovely. But about two days after I . . . that happened, I found a robin's nest on the ground with three dead eggs in it like broken eggs, right? And I was [00:30:25] like, everyone's like, “Oh, that's just so . . .” I'm like “No, this is just sad and unpleasant,” right? You know? And I was just like, yeah, that's, that's, that's definitely acknowledging like the depth of the disruption that's happened here. And, [00:30:40] and so, you know, I took that, I picked up the nest, and I saved it, and you know, it's around still. And, and then, maybe three weeks ago, two weeks ago, [00:30:55] I was walking through this laneway that I identify with the spirit that I work with a lot. And there was a pigeon on, like sort of flopping around a bit, with this, what looked like a branch [00:31:10] wrapped around its neck, and I'm like, "Oh, how am I going to free this poor bird? Is it going to let me get close enough to liberate it?" And as I got a little closer, the bird, I realized, was actually holding onto the branch. It was not stuck by it. [00:31:25] And it flew up and it flew directly up over my head, circled maybe like five feet above my head, three times, and literally dropped the branch into my hands.
BARBARA: No way!
ANDREW: And I was like, "Perfect, now [00:31:40] there's a new nest. Now I'm going to build something new. Now I've moved on, internally, I've moved on," right?
BARBARA: Ohhhh . . .
ANDREW: So to me, these are events that I take as as close to synchronous as people usually mean by that, right? [00:31:55] You know, direct message from somewhere else, right? And to me, they are clear, and concrete, and so on, in a way that, you know, not to diminish anybody else's experience, but [00:32:10] that those other kinds of symbols, I'm not sure what they mean, right? At least in my life, you know? And so, yeah, but also, you know there have been plenty of times in my life, where I'm like, [00:32:25] "Oh, yeah, I saw that, I saw that number again. I'm on the right path. I'm on the right path," you know? And I think that that's fair too, I think I just have a different relationship to it now, and I have a different set of expectations maybe. So.
BARBARA: [00:32:40] Yeah. Okay, great. It all makes sense. And I love the story about the pigeon. Oh my God, I'm still stuck on that.
Anyways, yeah. So, synchronicity, like levels of synchronicity, or is it [00:32:55] synchronicity, or is it a message from the divine, are they two different things? Those are really great questions. I think I agree with you. I think there is a difference between them. And, like synchronicity, I mean, I think the actual definition of it is like two [00:33:11] disconnected things that seem to have a connection. And I think that we humans are the ones who give that connection or give that meaning, so, so maybe what, why it's comforting to me is because if I [00:33:26] see something that brings to mind something else that's connected with what I'm doing at the time, or going through or thinking about, it just helps remind me that that's where my attention is.
BARBARA: So, you know, maybe it's just this, a [00:33:41] way of like stoking the fire, like, yes, this is what my intention is. This is what I want to think about. You know, but on a kind of more subtle level or something.
And then, you know, messages from the divine, then, I think, are kind of different. [00:33:57] You mentioned finding the cards, playing cards, specifically playing cards on the street is pretty funny. It reminds me of . . . Dylan has something that she has always called parking lot divination, and she started it when she was [00:34:12] a book cover designer at Llewellyn. Now, as you could imagine, the trash cans, the big garbage bins outside of Llewellyn, sometimes would have cards in them, for, you know, if a package had been damaged or whatever. [00:34:27] And so, sometimes, I guess, they would blow around and she would always walk around the building, you know, for exercise every day. And so sometimes she would come across these random cards on the, you know, and she would always pick them up and they would mean, she would read them as [00:34:42] a divination, and she still does that to this day, and she finds a surprising number of playing cards just out and about in the streets. It's very strange. So, so yeah.
ANDREW: They're definitely around.
ANDREW: The other thing [00:34:57] that's funny is I almost never find a whole deck. A couple times I have. Yeah, and often I'll find them clustered for periods of time, you know, like I will find [00:35:12] different, different cards in different places for a couple months, and then I'll find nothing for six months.
ANDREW: And then I'll start finding them again, which is also, to me, interesting. Yeah.
BARBARA: Huh. I have another kind of [00:35:27] a symbol story, and you know, does it mean something? Or does it mean nothing? Or did I give it meaning or whatever? That . . . it's a story that I wanted to tell you, you know, any, at some point today, anyways . . .
BARBARA: Cause it's very, it was very significant [00:35:42] to me. So, So, okay. How to tell the story? Okay. So, Dylan is not going to be here at Christmas. She's actually flying back to Minnesota for Christmas. I'm going to be [00:35:57] here alone, which is great because I have a whole, you know, personal retreat planned and ritual, and all kinds of crazy great stuff, but because of that, we did our little personal celebration on Sunday. And, [00:36:12] but we had agreed on no presents because of reasons. And, but she said, "But, I do have one present that I actually started the process for it a few months ago. So, there’ll be [00:36:27] the one present." I'm like, “Okay, I can, I can let you give me a present, no problem.”
BARBARA: And so, well, so the back story that you need to know to understand the present [00:36:42] is: When we got married, she gave me a necklace, and it suited me perfectly, it was meaningful and beautiful and we both loved it. And it was just, it was [00:36:57] like a symbol, one of the many symbols of us.
BARBARA: And in May, we were, we were out at the coast. I was taking a watercolor class, and we'd gone together, and I brought the necklace but I didn't, [00:37:12] I don't sleep in it. So I, you know, just take it off, and I, you know, put it somewhere, then . . . Long story short, it got left in the hotel, and when we called the hotel, they're like, “No, it's not in the room.” You know? So, [00:37:27] I mourned that necklace. I cried, it felt, it felt symbolic. It felt like “Oh my God, our marriage is,” you know? It's, it just made me so sad because [00:37:42] things had been hard, we’re working through some things, and I just took it as this horrible, horrible omen, and it just broke my heart. And the company, [00:37:57] we couldn't find, it looks like the company didn't make the necklace anymore, so I couldn’t even get a replacement, and it was just horrible, horrible. Well, so Christmas comes, present time. She gives me a . . . Okay. So she brings me a card and a little, little present and I opened the card and I start [00:38:12] reading it and I start bawling because she's written some stuff that is breaking my heart in a good way. And she's like, “Well, since you’re crying, hold on, we'll just keep going.” And she goes in the other room and brings out a different package [00:38:27] and I start opening it. And it's wrapped in this kind of a gift baggy thing that we've had for years and we only use it for a very special gift. And . . .
ANDREW: That's really sweet.
BARBARA: It [00:38:42] is, it is, we haven't used it in a number of years because you know, it hasn't been like that. And so, she, I start opening it. And then inside it is a bag from Arthur's Jewelers, Arthur's Jewelers [00:38:57] is the Jewelers in St. Paul where we got like our wedding rings from, and if we ever get like actual real jewelry, which we don't have a lot of, but we get it from them, and as I saw the bag and I'm like, she got me jewelry, what? And, and, then all of a sudden [00:39:12] I knew what was in that bag and I have never ripped the package open so fast in my life, and it was the necklace. And I saw it, and I have, I cried like my [00:39:27] soul was, I don't know what was going on. But I've only cried like that like maybe three times in my life, and it felt like a symbol, you know, like a sign like, okay, like, you lost [00:39:42] it. You guys were in the like, the three days of death or the three days after death, like, you know, in the bowels of hell fighting the demon, and now you're done, and now you, you know, you have the same, it's a new necklace, but it's the same necklace. It, [00:39:57] so, it's kind of like our marriage. It's the same marriage, but it's a new marriage and it was hard won. And until I lost it, I didn't realize how much it meant to me, and, you know, so, [00:40:12] I felt like the necklace, was always symbolic, the loss of it was symbolic, the reacquiring of it was symbolic. So that's another thing entirely, you know, was that divine? Was that something we, [00:40:27] that . . . I don't know. How did that happen?
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I mean, I think that, I think that the answer is probably always really complex, right? You know, I mean, people, [00:40:43] you know, people talk about like, the fire, right? Me having the fire. They're like, “Well, you know, maybe it happened for a reason so you could whatever.” And I'm always like, "I don't, I don't buy that answer at all.” Right? I mean, you know, that [00:40:58] said, right? I think that, like many things, I hold sort of contradictory ideas about it, right? And in myself, they seem fine to be contradictory, right?
I know that, [00:41:13] you know, in some ways, that the fire must have been a part of my destiny, in some sense, because of the advice of the Orishas in the time around it, right? You know, we have this [00:41:29] kind of source of negativity, which is Otonowa, which means that which we brought with you from heaven, right? And sometimes it means, sometimes it means that literally. Maybe sometimes [00:41:44] it stands for things that just can't be changed and we have to work through in one way or another, but, you know, this was part of my advice from the Orishas around that time. So, I'm like, well, fair enough, something was going on there, in that regard. [00:41:59] But also like, the idea that, you know, I talked about this, I think in the last episode too with Chiron Armand, you know, the idea that we are always progressing towards other things, or better things, and [00:42:14] so on. I don't necessarily believe that, either, right? I think that, you know, we can look at people's lives and see that that doesn't happen, sometimes, right? Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. And the reasons for that are, [00:42:29] you know, complex and, you know, and always a bit obscure as well. Right? Why does, why does one experience sort of break a person in a way that they don't recover from? And why does it, you know, [00:42:44] you know, just deeply bruise or wound or maybe not even apparently sort of injure another person, right? You know, there's such a diversity amongst us all and why that is the case, right?
But for me, I look at [00:42:59] these situations and I think that it becomes a question of what do we, what do, you know, there's, if we want to call it fate or whatever, those, those experiences that are beyond our apparent control, right? [00:43:14] Or that are the unexpected byproduct of decisions that we have made, maybe in the case of a relationship, that might sort of give the appearance of fate, and might coincide with synchronicities, right? That moment when you lost the necklace and it cued you to, [00:43:29] you know, all of the bigger changes that were going on, right? And then there's the question of what do we do with it? Right? You know?
And I think that that is also, you know, such a big distinction, [00:43:44] right? You know? And like, me ending up in the situation that I'm in now, which is in many ways more ideal than the situation I was in with the store. You know? Or where the store was at, at the time of the fire. You know, on the one hand, [00:43:59] yeah, that's, it's great that it's, that it's sort of working out really well, but also there's a, there's a lot of it that's really, was already in my two year plan. You [00:44:14] know? Like I was already thinking about these ideas and working on them. And so, some of this transformation, you know, I'm just going to take credit for, by saying, you know, like look, I had these ideas that because of the [00:44:31] concreteness of having the store were going to take me a long time to make shift, that in some ways the fire basically just liquidated my assets into cash and allowed me to transform it, you know, [00:44:46] and applying it towards those plans. You know? There's that, that sort of balance of agency, free will, and the intersection of fate, right? Because I think that what we, what we do when things happen is, [00:45:02] you know, is important, and makes a big difference in that, you know? And I think that the more we cultivate a capacity to, you know, to make good decisions during those times, [00:45:17] you know, the better that can go and so on, right? So, anyway, I don't know, I don't know if that makes any sense at all. But . . .
BARBARA: Oh, yeah. Well, as you say, these things get confusing to talk about, so, yeah, I think yeah, insofar [00:45:32] as it can make sense, it totally makes sense. And, kind of, almost kind of connected with that is, you know, this, the idea [00:45:47] of like judging something as good or bad. Okay. It's, and it's kind of connected with the idea, “Oh, it happened for a reason.” Well, I mean first of all, almost everything does happen for a reason because cause and effect exists. And you know, so there was a reason, [00:46:02] but I know people are talking about a grander reason then electrical faultiness or whatever. So, things happen for a reason, maybe, you know, they . . . Things happen, [00:46:17] is what what it is, and trying to judge whether they're good or bad. I mean, we want to do that because that's what we do because we're binary beings, I guess, you know like, “Oh, that's good. That's bad.” I mean, people always say [00:46:32] what they think, but you can't always tell if something's actually good or bad in the long run until time has passed, because there have been things that I went through that I wouldn't want to go through again, [00:46:47] but I'm glad they happened, because then XYZ happened, not saying it happened for a reason, you know, like because it didn't magically do anything. It also ties kind of into what you're saying, your own agency and own preparedness, [00:47:02] your own, you know, strength of will, whatever you want to say, you know, you can bring that to it and turn things around.
But it's also one of the things that bothered me, puzzled me about these, you know, more everyday readings, you know, like, people are like, “Well, [00:47:17] you know, I'm thinking of taking this job. Should I take this job?” And you know, I mean, I don't know about you, but like if I'm looking into the future, I'm not real comfortable looking more than six months out. I just don't. [00:47:32] And you know, so if I'm, you know, do a reading and it's like, well, yeah, the job says this, this, and this, and maybe some things they consider not good and then they don't take it. But if they took it, then it would [00:47:47] have led to XYZ. So, you know, just, we don't always know. We think we know what we want in the short term. We think we know what our goals are. Oh, I want to manifest this, I want to do this, if the cards say it's all going to be positive. [00:48:02] I think we lose something in that, because not everything we do has to be completely positive or successful to be worthwhile or to be part of a larger journey that might be more worthwhile.
BARBARA: Does that make sense?
ANDREW: It does. [00:48:17] I mean, I think that, I think that the question of like, you know, one of the questions that I've been thinking about for a while, specifically around, you know, my work life, is like, what's enough? Right? [00:48:32] At what point, at what point am I successful enough? I mean, to put it in really basic terms, at what point am I making enough money? And what, what is it that I would like from going beyond that point? Right? You know? And I think [00:48:47] that, you know, working for yourself is not like kind of getting into a job description position that you like and just sort of like, "perfect, if I just stay in this job till I retire, that's great," because working for yourself doesn't really work that way, and I'm not sure the economy works that way [00:49:02] that much anymore anyway. But you know, but I think that we have these sort of notions of progress, of enlightenment, of, you know, all those kinds of ideas that are, you know, cultural [00:49:17] to capitalism and you know, like cultural to North America and so on, maybe, that, that I think are questionable how helpful they are, right? You know, like, [00:49:32] I don't, I don't know that . . . Like mostly what I'm interested in is making art, making more art, making more art, and doing the things that supports [00:49:47] that, right? And you know, like, I love running the store. I love doing readings for people. But I think that like, the idea of it sort of going anywhere. I'm like, well, I [00:50:02] don't know where, I don't know where it goes, and what the definition of where it goes, and what the grand plan is. I just want to, you know, do my practice, which is, you know, making art and reading cards for people, and just continue to do that.
And I think that, you know, [00:50:17] that you're right, that it's hard to say, on a big arc of time, what might be good or what might be difficult. You know, like if we get, if we take a job, maybe it's crummy for six months and then it's great [00:50:32] after that, and so on. But I also feel like the idea of persevering through stuff towards an outcome. I'm really [00:50:47] less and less interested in that these days, you know? If something, if something, if the exchange isn't good in the short term, then I don't, you know, I don't, I'm not really that interested in sort of engaging in that [00:51:02] to get to a theoretically better long-term, you know? And, and I think that, I think a lot of people, especially around relationships, right, sort of work through, try to work through stuff, [00:51:17] you know, to get to . . . Especially newer relationships, right? Like maybe if you've been with somebody for a while as you have been, that, you know, there's a, there's a different math around, like, well, I was involved for this long. [00:51:32] And so now I'm willing to commit a longer stretch of time to working on things.
ANDREW: But, but, I think that for me, I'm like, I'm not that interested in working on very much these days in those kinds of ways, you know, and if something isn't [00:51:47] flowing, I don't have the, I haven't seen the value of spending the resilience and capacity on working hard at stuff that is difficult [00:52:03] towards accomplishing longer term goals without making a change, right? You know, I think about it like Crowley talks about the Strength card or the Lust card in his tarot deck, right? And, and I think [00:52:18] that he draws a distinction in his writing on it, where he says that, you know, lust is not the absence of effort, right? It's not the absence of exertion. It is the absence of noticing the exertion, right? [00:52:33] Or something along those lines, right? And that idea that, you know, if we don't mind the work that we're not going to notice it, right?
ANDREW: And if we do mind the work, well, then, maybe we need to, maybe that's one of those cues to make a change, right? [00:52:49]
BARBARA: Yeah, that's gorgeous. And if you follow it, like if that's kind of a guideline that you're following for your life right now, as you were saying, then you probably [00:53:04] wouldn't be doing readings on things so much, because if you're like, I'm, I'm going with how things feel now, you are attune enough to yourself to know what you're . . . You know, [00:53:19] so you probably would need less readings because you're paying attention to your energy and how you're feeling and what you're doing and the effort and the payoff. Is that true or not true?
ANDREW: That's true. [00:53:35] Trueish. I mean, I think that there are always practical considerations that are difficult, right? You know? [00:53:50] Dealing, dealing with insurance companies after having had a fire. It's like, man, nobody wants to insure you, right? It's like, it's difficult. And so, there are . . . For me, there are always practical questions, [00:54:05] and, you know, questions along the lines of, is there anything that I can do to make this better, to make it happen, especially because I have a very strong practical magical practice, right? You know, so there are those kinds of questions. [00:54:20] But really the question that I ask more often than not, these days, is either something along the lines of like well, should I run my Tarot de Marseilles class in January, or should I run my other course, [00:54:35] right? Like very sort of strategic business kind of things? Or a question, the question I go back to most of the time, is how do I show up fully today? How do [00:54:50] I show up fully in this situation? Right?
ANDREW: And you know, and for me, that's a question that I've kind of come to answer by a sort of multi-step open-ended [00:55:07] kind of practice. Right? Like I don't, I no longer just kind of, if I'm going to read cards for myself in that way, I don't like just draw a card or two cards for the answer. I’ll usually draw start with drawing a playing card, [00:55:22] checking in with my guides and ancestors, drawing three trumps from the, from a Marseilles deck, reading those in light of what's already been set in motion in the early part of the reading, and then [00:55:38] drawing a card from my Land of the Sacred Self Oracle that I self-published. And doing some writing on that, and then usually photographing that, and then drawing, doing, drawing back into it [00:55:53] and embellishing it further, and then at some point, that feels finished. So, like that's the, the process that I do when I do that stuff. And you know, it's all, if you, if people were to look at it, which I'm not [00:56:08] going to share it anywhere. But anyway, if people were to look at it, you'd be like, wow. I don't know what sense this makes a lot of time because a lot of it is very nonlinear and very, you know, like a lot of channeled reading, writing, you know, like, [00:56:23] and so on. But at the end of the process, I'm like, “Oh, now, now I'm aligned for the day, and now I know how I stay aligned for the day. You know for this project or whatever.” Right? So . . . yeah.
BARBARA: Yeah, well and yeah, [00:56:38] that sounds like a good process, and I think like, some, I've heard people, you know, say, “Oh, I can't read for myself.” And I think sometimes part of that is they don't read for themselves the way they read [00:56:53] for somebody else. Like they give themself short shrift. You know, they won't go through the whole process, just throw the cards, look at them, go, and then pick them up and put them away. You know, it's different. I think if you treat [00:57:08] yourself as if you were, how you would treat a client . . .
ANDREW: For sure and I think if you're going to read for yourself around practical considerations, you just need to have a lot of discipline, right? You know? For me when I read for myself [00:57:23] around practical considerations, it's actually usually really short because I'm like, like, you know, it's whatever. The Tower card says, this is a horrible idea. Don't go down this road. It's like, it's like, it's the end of the conversation. Just stop [00:57:38] there, you know, because the more I talk about it, the more I might try and talk myself into it or think that I have agency where, where the Tower says it doesn't, you know? And so on and so on, right? So but for me, yeah, it's like, you know, there's a short list of [00:57:53] sort of core meaning that I would attribute to every card that if I want to read for myself, I'm going to hold hard to that no matter whether I like it or not, whether it even makes sense or not to me, and be like, “All right, the card says that [00:58:08] someone's going to really betray you here, 10 of Swords. It's like, well, all right, let's not go there then.” Well, so I'm going to go instead, “What else can I do?” You know? Yeah.
BARBARA: I think that's important too when you especially, well, like your first practice was more of [00:58:23] an internal deeper kind of a reading. And now we're talking about practical readings, and I think one of the reasons we want to do a practical reading is because we want to bypass our head, because we keep thinking [00:58:38] about it, and we keep justifying, and we know we're justifying, or making excuses and we know we're making excuses. So, you do this reading and keep it short and hold yourself to it. It helps bypass all of that, but you're right, if you start thinking about it, like, well, the Tower [00:58:53] can be, you know, how we can sometimes spin things.
ANDREW: Carl Jung thinks of buildings as being a symbol of our ego and our persona in the world, maybe I just need to change the way I approach this, so that I can have a different experience of this and then I can learn [00:59:08] and grow and blah blah blah. It's like, no. Still gonna get hit by the lightning. Definitely don't like that. Thank you, but I'll pass. Right?
ANDREW: For sure.
BARBARA: Or someone wants to know, "Oh, I started dating someone, how is it going to go?" Five of Wands. "Oh, it's going to be so exciting [00:59:23] and fun!" And you know, it's like, one of the exercises I would give beginner students is, for reading for themselves, is okay, before you do a reading, the question, you know your question, and you know what answer [00:59:38] you want.
BARBARA: Go through the deck and just like, if you don't already have the meanings, like you have, for reading for yourself. This is new people, go through the deck and you know pull out the cards that you think would make that answer.
BARBARA: And then [00:59:53] shuffle your cards--and make note of them--shuffle your cards again, and then do your reading, and then if, you know, the Two of Cups, Ten of Cups, whatever doesn't come up. It can be like, "Well, okay. This isn't one of the answer cards. [01:00:08] This is a different answer." And it's a way to kind of discipline, discipline yourself, which is what you said when we started.
ANDREW: Sure. Yeah. No, exactly. Well. It's like, you know, I think that that approach is, you know, really [01:00:23] helpful for a lot of things, right? And especially for, you know, I mean not everybody reads for, for everything, you know, but I do. Right? Like I don't really have limits around what I'll read for, you know, for [01:00:38] the most part. So, like, if someone's like, well, am I going to get pregnant, right? Am I going to conceive? Well, I have a short, short list of cards that answer yes to that, right? There's only like three or four of them, [01:00:53] depending on the deck I'm working with, and if those cards don't show up, then I'm going to say, "The cards don't give you a solid yes." Right? And you know, the same with the question people are like, “Am I cursed?” I'm like, “It happens, magic is real. I believe [01:01:08] it,” you know. But there's, there's only a couple of cards in the deck that are going to answer affirmatively to, to me around that, and my expectation is that the mystery will surface those cards, so that the answer feels unequivocal, [01:01:24] you know. And I think that that's also a practice that is a bit hair-raising when people are starting, but I think that, you know, as we talk about it, I realize how many different kinds of questions I have a very short list of [01:01:39] cards that I would take as a solid answer to, you know, and I think that that's a really helpful way maybe to, to avoid feeling ambiguous about the readings that you're giving, right?
ANDREW: So, yeah. [01:01:56] All right. Well, maybe, is there something else you want to add? I see you looking like you're gonna . . .
BARBARA: Yes, I, there's one, like, I kind of said that I was going to be studying fate and destiny in the coming year.
BARBARA: The other thing I'm [01:02:11] looking forward to is, over this past year, I've heard a couple of people refer to mythic living, like I should know what that means, and I don't, and I've asked a couple of people, you know, "Well, what do you mean by [01:02:26] that?" And I haven't gotten, I was, kept getting this idea that it was like, where you just live really big and loud and you know, mythically legendary, you know? And, but . . . I read something a couple weeks ago that made me think okay, you got that wrong, obviously, [01:02:42] and what this blog said was, it's when you understand the mythic rhythms of life, things that happen, the mythic, well, [01:02:57] anyways, you know what I mean. And when you understand them and when you can learn where you are in your life in terms of a mythic story, or cycle, then you can learn how to live within that. [01:03:12] Have you ever heard anything like that? What do you think of that?
ANDREW: I mean, isn't that how people feel about the hero's journey?
BARBARA: It's the whole, yes, exactly. Okay. So similar thing.
ANDREW: I think, right. I mean, I've my [01:03:27] own ideas about mythic stuff, but we'll save that for later, for another time, maybe. But I think that, I think that [01:03:42] the idea of sort of myths as true guides to our, to our lives, or as, you know, true models of experience, in the same way that I think of this sort of way in [01:03:57] which people sometimes default to astrology, and sometimes default to other ways of creating definition. I think they're, I think that there is value in them, and there are [01:04:12] values in those stories, you know?
And as a person who practices a religion that is based on, we could say, has a huge swath of it that's based on stories, right? You know, nobody, nobody [01:04:27] in my tradition would tell you . . . Well, no, nobody with a solid grounding in reality would tell you that, you know, as a child of Shango, I'm gonna live the life, live the myths of Shango, [01:04:42] right? You know? And you know, and I think that this idea that, that sort of these myths define the arc of human experience, right? I think [01:04:57] it's pretty questionable. I think that there is truth in it, right? You know, like the, the myth of Percival, which is so popular amongst, you know, Western initiatory stuff, [01:05:12] right? It's like, there are pieces of that that are true, and valuable, and you see most people encounter in some way, right? Like, you know, once the, once the hero decides to go on their journey, something arises to distract them, right? You know, [01:05:27] Kundria arrives to distract Percival from pursuing whatever, right? But the idea that every myth ends with, you know, “Oh, you are the person you were searching for all along and you had it with you the whole time.” [01:05:42] I don't think that's true at all. Right? I see lots of people whose lives are, are not that way, right? And, you know, and yet, the, the, questions that arise from looking at that myth a bit, like what would, what would distract you from your deeper commitment? [01:05:57] Right? In what ways are you not already acknowledging your gifts, you know? And so on, right?
Like those, those are powerful questions, but as sort of models for, for sort of promoting everybody's [01:06:12] experience, you know, it's like the hero's journey. I'm just kind of like, I'm like, "Yeah, maybe, for some people, some of the time," but then we're back to this question of like, agency and free will and how much does our expectation that is the course that we're going to [01:06:27] continue on then shape the course that we live afterwards, right? And I think that, yeah, so. But yeah, so I think that that's a really mixed bag [01:06:42] of things, you know, for me, you know? And probably because I did not come out of tarot from that sort of Angeles Aryan, sort of archetypes of people, you know, archetypes are what's behind [01:06:57] tarot piece, but came from a sort of practical magical and sort of ceremonial background into this stuff and then into a non-Western tradition religiously. I always look at those pieces, and I'm kind of like, eh? [01:07:12] I get it. I see it. Like I can see how you see it. And I can see how it's there, but it's like, what it's defined as, seems overstated or, or incomplete in some way to me, [01:07:27] in a way that I've never been able to reconcile it, or kind of close the loop on it. So yeah.
BARBARA: I guess that's why there's a lot of different approaches because . . .
BARBARA: Some work for some people and some work for others [01:07:42].
ANDREW: Exactly, right, you know, and it's, of course, it's not to say that, you know, if people find value in that, fantastic, right?
ANDREW: You know, please, please don't write me, I don't need to have this conversation again. I've had it so many times, you know? But no, not [01:07:57] that, not talking, talking about you, but like, but yeah, it's like I've had many people, very smart people try to convince me. Or want to have conversations around convincing me about it. Like it's not my jam. I just, I just don't, I just don't jive with it, so we could just go [01:08:12] talk about other things instead, right?
BARBARA: Right, or yeah, because that's not a really interesting conversation, because trying to convince someone who has, especially someone who has a perfectly workable system, you know, and they're not like [01:08:27] asking for advice or looking for a new way to live or think. It's just evangelizing, and why do you, why . . . Just because you believe something is true, the, the other person doesn't have to think it's true. [01:08:42] That doesn't diminish its worth for you. You know, you don't, everyone doesn't have to believe the same thing.
BARBARA: You know, what might be more interesting would be to say, "Well, let's talk about what I think and what you think and see if there are any parallels and maybe talk about where they [01:08:57] differ. And isn't that interesting? And why is that?" You know.
ANDREW: No, for sure. Yeah. I'm curious to hear what your explorations of mythicness deliver to you, bring to you, over time, though, for sure.
BARBARA: I [01:09:12] know. I have a feeling that next year, next fall, our conversation is going to be super interesting. I mean not that these haven't been, but these have been personal, and hard, and important, and [01:09:28] valuable, but I think for next fall, we might, our listeners might get a treat of something different.
ANDREW: Or maybe they'll just get a lovely, what are we at now, fourth helping, fifth helping of, you know, [01:09:43] whatever this is. But yeah, we'll figure it out. We'll, time will tell.
BARBARA: That's right.
ANDREW: Well, thanks for making time again, Barbara. I appreciate it as always.
BARBARA: I do too. I love these conversations.
ANDREW: Me too!
Saturday Dec 14, 2019
Saturday Dec 14, 2019
Saturday Dec 14, 2019
Andrew and Chiron discuss shaman sickness, transformation, and growth – and all the things that pretend to be those real experiences. They discuss authenticity, how to discern if an experience in real, and approaching spirits. They also get into talking about the invitation to collude with with the problematic elements of our histories and the world in general.
They also recorded a bonus recording where we revisit the theme of shade and Chiron shares a bath anyone could do to clear themselves and do some healing. This can be found by becoming a Patreon supporter here.
Andrew: Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today with Chiron Armand to talk about everything because one of the things that I appreciate having followed their orbit for a while is they do a lot of different stuff. They practice a lot of different traditions. But I think that one of the things that's inspired me about having them on is they seem, from my point of view, to do it with a lot of integrity, which I think is something that can be very difficult or sometimes just totally lacking when people are involved in a variety of different paths. But for people who might not know who you are, who are you Chiron? Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Chiron: I'm a dude from Queens, 33 years old as of the time that we are recording this. I'm a Taurus with a Pisces rising and Leo moon, Venus [inaudible 00:01:04] Mars in Capricorn and I happen to be a spirit initiated shamanic healer with some initiations in a few other traditions including Haitian Voodoo as in Malidoma Somé. I am the founder of impactshamanism.com and I've written a couple of books on magic and am hoping to move more into my artistic life because I also have a background in the arts and academia that has been not as flourishing as I would've liked it to be over the past few years as I've gone through various virtual experiences and stuff, but I'm finally regaining my footing when it comes to which parts of my expression that are ratchet and nerdy and all that. Social media has been a fun place to remember aspects of myself that I haven't been able to play with [inaudible 00:02:01].
Andrew: Yeah, it's always interesting. I find that for sure, as time goes on, things come back. Right? I mean, I went to art school right out of high school, graduated art school and I was like, "Fuck this business." The art scene's horrible. And I [inaudible 00:02:21] for a long time. But those pieces return, right? Which I think is interesting. And it's interesting how and when they return as well.
Chiron: A former teacher of mine would say, "Nothing true is ever lost." And that is something that's been really near and dear to my heart. Especially if you are someone who has experienced a lot of loss or a lot of initiatory descents, it'd be really scary because you're in the becoming of something new, perhaps even over and over and over again. But things come back, things come back and its really beautiful when they do for sure.
Andrew: Let's talk about that, the initiatory descent. Tell me what you mean by that because not everybody's necessarily going to know that term or have and idea about it.
Chiron: Sure. When I'm speaking of initiation, I'm generally speaking of one of three different kinds of things, but number one, the most important thing when I'm thinking about initiation is was the initiation efficacious. So, I'm talking about what we often consider to be initiation, the idea of a spiritual teacher, a priestess, a mambo or ouanga or something or tata. I have been initiated into [inaudible 00:03:52] initiated into Palo. I have been [inaudible 00:03:58] human beings who had certain licenses who then put me through a ritual process on the other side of which I became someone new. And my experience of being initiated into certain traditions, there are some similarities no matter what. There's often some kind of a stripping of way of that which you were.
[inaudible 00:04:22] it shows up in different ways. I often think of the myth of the descent of Inanna. You have this springtime goddess who's moving through these, I believe, seven portals into the underworld. At each stage she literally, she's having an accessory of piece of clothing removed. So, initiation can happen under the tutelage of a spiritual teacher.
Initiation is also something that life is doing to us all the time. We go through these cycles [inaudible 00:04:56] life grabs us by the neck and we lose things. We experience a divorce. Our house burns down. We lose a job that we've had for 30 years. We are being forced through a death experience on the other side of which is rebirth, but first you have to recognize that the death is happening, surrender to it and if you don't do that, and we don't, we resist it, we're like, "Oh fuck no. I like this amount of money. I like this lifestyle. I like this person who is probably not too great for me." We all love, we have a very death resistant culture.
Andrew: Or even if you don't like it, that experience of I don't actually know what else to do.
Chiron: I don't know [crosstalk 00:05:45]
Andrew: This is all I can see and I don't know what else there would be if I let go of these things.
Chiron: Absolutely. And side note, one of the things that's been really interesting to me as I'm trying to make sense of some of our societal ills, I have been looking a lot at what I consider to be a certain individual and collective stagnancy that occurs that makes us particular vulnerable to possession through our refusal, individually and collectively, to die, to die, to die well and become something new. If you've been avoiding a good death energetically for 30 years, then you're just a really stale individual and just like water that is stagnant, it's going to attract flies. So, that's just a side note.
Life is always trying to... There's obviously initiation by spiritual teachers. There's the idea that life is always supposed to be trying to initiate us. Also, there's another piece here that's between spiritual teachers and life, which is I am a strong believer that we are supposed to be initiated into adulthood, the killing off of the child self. That does not occur in our culture. That's another staleness view of us all as wounded children walking around in adult bodies and that's not cool.
And then the third initiatory kind of stuff I'm talking about is spirit initiatory stuff that sometimes a god shows up or a deity or a spirit or even an energy. I think that this doesn't get any play, but it happens. A craft can come and initiate you. Suddenly, you start seeing books about knitting everywhere and you're like, "Whoa, I am dreaming about knitting," and sure, that can be backed up by weaving deities and the lineage of grandmother spirits who are [crosstalk 00:07:50]
Andrew: [crosstalk 00:07:50] ancestors, right? For sure.
Chiron: Exactly. And energy, whether it be deity or ancestral energy or even a gift can absolutely move into our life in a shocking and overwhelming way, demanding our attention, demanding that we bring our attention to it and that can be very harrowing.
Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, and I think that those kinds of transformations on all levels and they're not easy usually. Sometimes they are. I mean, I've been through initiations. When I spent my time in the OTO doing Crowley derived ceremonial stuff, I would always know that I was ready for the next initiation because I had a dream about it, that I was literally walking into the temple and there I am and some of the elements after on the other side of the initiation, I was like, "Oh yeah. Look at that." There's not the whole piece but it's pieces of it in the dream state and it was very interesting to have those [inaudible 00:09:10] and in that case, the work was often impacting me ahead of time.
It would start. I'd be like, "Oh, I can feel the itch. The next initiation's coming because there's some turmoil here," and then I have the dream and then I work on the turmoil and then I have the dream about the ceremony and then at some point not too long after usually, then I get the call where it's like, "All right, we've coordinated a date for you. You'll show up on this date and we'll do the thing." And then in that case, the formal side was more of a cap on the work. Like a completion of the work and an opening to whatever is next.
Chiron: You can totally feel that door just starting to become [inaudible 00:09:56] if you have dreams, energy of slightly discomfort, a new opening is beginning.
Andrew: I'm always curious about this from people because to be completely honest, I am somewhat cynical about spirit led initiation. Not because I don't believe it's true and not because I don't believe it happens, but because of all you need to do is go on the internet and all the BS that shakes out from that sometimes.
Chiron: [crosstalk 00:10:35]
Andrew: From your point of view, how does a person who's feeling a connection with an entity, with an ancestor, with the stuff, how do they differentiate between an ego thing, between something that's real versus maybe getting in their own shadow and ego stuff.
Chiron: Get good divination, preferably from someone with a spirit centered practice. I say that because there are so many different kinds of diviners and I love all of them. I love us all. Kind of. That's the shade part that we were talking about.
Andrew: We'll get to the shade part later.
Chiron: Well, I have to allow myself to be bitchy where I think it serves. There are so many amazing diviners. There are individuals who use tarot in very psychological model. I myself have benefited from spirit workers who are psychotherapists. We're all intuitive. Sometimes I have to get out of being spirit centered. I have absolutely benefited from friends of mine who are far more grounded in Midgard, in middle world who say, "Chi. Chi, get [inaudible 00:11:59] fucking 401K Chi, 401K." [crosstalk 00:12:03]
Andrew: [crosstalk 00:12:03] do your taxes.
Chiron: Exactly, do your fucking taxes, Chi. But I think that when someone is thinking I might be encountering the numinous in a profound way, then go to someone who is grounded, who has encountered the numinous in a profound way. Absolutely, experience some of my earlier shamanic initiatory illness experiences I knew I had experienced something and I had some ideas about what I experienced, but then I went to spirit centered diviners, all of them in different traditions and they were able to say, "Yes, this happened to you. This is exactly what you think happened [crosstalk 00:12:55] fuck dude, that was real. Here are some next steps." [inaudible 00:13:00] profound being nothing if it doesn't become actionable.
I have a friend who, I'm here in Guatemala in a cool ex-pat city that's also, I like it, I like the vibe, but nearby there's Lake Atitlan where there are various small towns which are more touristy than others and I have an ex-pat friend who is currently volunteering at a hostel there and he was like, "You totally got to come down, Chi. It's going to be amazing. There's drum circles and cool shit and a lot of people in white cotton drawstring pants doing ayahuasca and injecting frog poison in their arms," and I'm like, "Okay, that's a lot." But what struck me was that no one's integrating their experiences. They're just like, "Yeah, I shoved frog poison in my arm and I almost died. It was crazy 30 minutes." And I'm like, "And then what?"
Andrew: Yeah. For sure.
Chiron: And so, there's that descent into [inaudible 00:14:04] initiatory experience [inaudible 00:14:08] but then there has to be an ascent. You have to come back. That's the whole point.
Andrew: Well, when I was 14, I was in the Dominican Republic and I was driving a motor scooter and I got hit head on by a dump truck and almost died. I spent a long time, first of all, I spent a year learning how to walk again. Physically it was really, really challenging. But also, that question, "Okay, so this happened, now what?" And the now what became I'm going to read everything that I can find. The now what became I'm going to run into spiritual people and I'm going to be cornering them and asking them questions and so on and so on. And that process of trying to make sense of a thing. I mean, there's the psychological level, there's the why did this happen level, there's all that stuff.
I think that that's the challenge with a lot of these things, you know what I mean? I spent plenty of time in my early 20's joyously exploring psychedelics and other things and again I had this really profound experience and I was like, "Well, now what?" And the now what was I don't need to do this anymore, I need to go do other things. I need to get to this place without anything else and experience it directly. So, I think that that process as you talk of it, it's amazing to have an opening experience. It's not amazing to have a horrible experience like getting hit by a truck, but it's amazing from a certain perspective, I suppose. But it's a question of what are you going to do with it. What does it mean? How does it change your life? How does it change your self, your sense of self? I think that's really integral to these kinds of things.
Chiron: Sure and oftentimes we need people on the shore with their arms outstretched welcoming us back and helping us come back, whether that is the spiritual people that you're cornering, whether that is the people who helping you move through various initiatory experiences in the OTO. Where not supposed to be doing this alone, so our collective lack of understanding of initiatory process is tremendously to our detriment individually and collectively. I absolutely hit a point in my initiatory illness stuff, where I was just desperately trying to get back to the human world and to the stable and to quote/unquote real and was flailing terribly.
And through a perfect, I mean, utterly profoundly perfect scheme of synchronicities, was led to another spirit initiated person, who called me up like, "Hey, let's talk about some essays I just wrote," and they said some key words that actually showed me that they were safe enough to share what I was going through with speaking with them because I had been being gaslit by a lot of people. And those keys words [inaudible 00:17:32] and they were like, "You need to come and live with me. Come live with me." And I actually moved in with him for three months and those three months, they gave me the space and time and knowledge to better understand what had happened to me and the [inaudible 00:17:53] to finish piecing myself back together.
Andrew: I think that brings up a really important point too. People need to be safe. There are lots of people who that are like, "Oh yeah, you're totally having this experience," and "You're meant to be the next great whatever." And I think that the more people are selling you stuff in terms of ideas and whatever and big pictures, again, the more suspect I tend to be about it.
Andrew: I think that there comes this place, point where it's like, "Yeah, you're in the middle of some shit and you got to patch that together." It's so much different than... I get people occasionally who get sent to me and essentially the question is, "Am I insane or have I made contact with God directly," or whatever. And this particular person I'm thinking about, they were hanging out with all these people who were telling them all this great stuff and what it meant and how wonderful it was that spirit was moving in and they would lose days to possession and whatever and this and that. And when we sat down and we flipped some cards, I'm just like, "No. It's none of that. You need to go, preferably right now, to the hospital and say 'I'm hearing voices, I'm having psychotic episodes and delusions. I'm losing time.'" And they had a big emotional purge about it and then I don't know what they did because they left. And I don't actually know them.
But it was one of those things where, depending on what people are telling you and the bigger the crown they're saying is on your head, the more suspect you should be of it, I think.
Chiron: For sure there's a famous anthropology story. I forget exactly the cultural context, but there is a woman who is experiencing or expressing certain symptoms regarding illness and madness and you have the ethnographer there, the anthropologist there who is watching what's happened and some shamans are called in from nearby town to actually come in and do divination and say is this person going through shaman sickness. Is this person in an initiatory illness experience? And the shamans end up agreeing no. This person is actually just experiencing symptoms of mental illness.
And it's very interesting because the anthropologist goes on to say, "Well, you know, this is actually evidence of the issue of patriarchy in the tribe and that the woman was of a lower economic class," [inaudible 00:20:56] rather than accepting the spirit centric animistic view of, "No, the shaman said that she's not." This is actually nothing political. This is actually not what's going on. Get thee to a hospital.
Andrew: Well, and I think that that's a thing that the western mindset struggles with. That it is possible to have a concrete solid answer. People feel that Oshun is visiting them, something that I run into as a priest of Shango in Afro-Cuban lineage. People show up and they're like, "Oh yeah, Oshun's talking to me." And I'm always like, "Well, I don't know. Maybe." I'm like, "But if you want to find out, there's a way to find out." There's traditional divination, there are these things that can give us answers. And almost everybody who gets the answer that's "no" doesn't accept it. This idea that we could get an authoritative, 100% reliable answer to a question about things like that is something that people really struggle with because they won't look for other reasons. Instead of just being like, "Okay." Orisha says, "No." "Okay. What do I do now?"
Chiron: Well, what do I do now is a really important question too. We're struggling with a tremendous lack of meaning in our culture. Identity is a huge issue [inaudible 00:22:43] and we're all supposed to be having experiences of the profound and some understanding of the intrinsic profundity of our own true nature and being denied that, but having a soul that is wired for that. We're really fucked, frankly. We're so badly fucked. But don't take this one cool thing that tells me that I'm more than are rat race away from me. Like, "No, I had this dream, it was a golden woman, it had to do with a river. It has to be this. Don't take the first time I'm experiencing some level of profound meaning in relation to my life away from me."
Andrew: Well, yeah. This question of that identity is one that I am fascinated by. How do people construct identity and how do people find identity. And in some ways, I've definitely talked about this on the podcast in a few places, especially probably on the Stacking Skulls stuff, about this notion that a lot of the [inaudible 00:23:56] magic that I do for myself, I term it as identity magic. It's how do I change my consciousness to identify myself in a different way to make things possible.
But yeah, people are often looking, it seems, for the identity, the end of the searching for identity, end of the question of who we are and I don't know when that happens. If you've found it, you let me know, but I feel like it's a continuous set of questions.
Chiron: It is a continuous set of questions. I think that one of the things that I've been most blessed by was my working for some kind of a teacher who really focused on the idea of the authentic self. That you actually are here with a purpose and understanding certain aspects of that purpose can give you an idea of some of the things that you're here to do. So, bring your attention to that. That has shown up for me in big mundane ways like, obviously I have a better understanding that I'm supposed to be doing certain things like this here and there, but even the small ways. I'd be like, "I'm going to craft a spell. I'm going to craft some magic," and the push that I've experienced in the spirit world, like, "Make sure you include song in that." I'm like, "[inaudible 00:25:21] yeah, I used to sing as a kid," but that was a piece. That's one of the pieces of my soul's purpose energy, is music is there.
We are this beautiful charismatic energies, but most of us have no idea what that prism consists of. So, even getting a little bit of understanding of, and it's not just an understanding, it's really a remembrance of little remembrances of who we are. Which is also really helpful when it comes to protection, so that you can stop listening to every voice, human and nonhuman, about what to do. There's almost nothing more valuable in the cosmos than the human heart. And human heart is easily hijacked, easily persuaded and influenced. You got to get that shit on lock. Or at least start who am I? What am I doing? Why am I [inaudible 00:26:32] here? And make sense of it. So you have understanding of what you have to [inaudible 00:26:38] because that trickster spirit hiding behind that Oshun face wants that heart, girl. It wants to eat you.
Andrew: Yeah, for sure. Well, and I think that [crosstalk 00:26:55]
Chiron: [crosstalk 00:26:55] someone's knocking on my door. My apologies. I know what I wanted to say next, actually.
Andrew: Yeah, go.
Chiron: There's also an article going around, very interesting from a number of perspectives. It's an article, the title, I believe is called, Shaman's View Mental Illness As Something Different Entirely. It's a very interesting article because on the surface, the image often shared in relation to the article is that of a South American medicine person. While the article is referencing a West African medicine person. This is just, I'm a nerd. The article is referencing the work and teachings of Malidoma Somé, who is a Dagara elder and who's written about mental illness and his experiences of psychiatric hospitals here in the west and the oftentimes spirit influences that he sees going on in regards to mental illness. Never does he say all mentally ill people are shamans. But that's kind of the takeaway that the article provides and that most people who are sharing it seem to have...
And it's extremely harmful and reductive of the vastly different states that we can experience [inaudible 00:28:31]. Is there a link sometimes between spirit work and mental illness or experience of madness? Absolutely. I fall into that category. But-
Andrew: And it goes the other way. Being bipolar, being schizophrenic, having a wide range of certain kinds of mental illness makes one susceptible to spirits coming around in the same way the being stagnant, we talked about earlier, makes people susceptible to spiritual complications. But there's a big difference between a spiritual complication and what you're talking about here as an initiatory sickness or solely caused by a failure to be aligned with your destiny or whatever.
Chiron: And it also comes back to the identity issue that what one experiences in terms of mental illness or spiritual intensity stuff. None of these things necessarily mean forever. Some of these experiences and states are temporary. But in our desperation for identity, give me something to call myself, give me something to be besides a consumer and capitalist.
Andrew: We could just end the episode right thing. Just big bold quotes. "Please, dear God, give me something other to be than a consumer and a capitalist."
Chiron: Yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Right? Yeah. Well and I think it's fascinating because this article really talks about something that I wanted to ask you about. Which is, depending on the backgrounds people come from, you'll hear different ideas about what's going on. And some people have much more, animism is a word that people tend to know these days. But really, a spirit rich world. Because I think of it before people started using animism. I remember talking to, because the first store I worked at was 80% Caribbean clientele who would come for readings. And they'd be like, "Oh yeah. They've got a disagreeable spirit on them. Oh, they've got this on..." and everything was a spirit.
I think that my question for you is how do was engage animism? How do we think about these ideas because I think that they're true in certain ways. And what do we do with them? Does that make sense? Is that even a question? I don't know.
Chiron: Well, I remember reading in my very, very early days of animism and solitary neo-Wiccan practice, always coming across walkers between the worlds and all that. Became the walker between the world and it was like, "Oh, that sounds so cool and so sexy." And here I am, 12 years later I'm like, "Oh fuck it's horrible! It's just so complex." And again, you're not supposed to do this alone. I can't do this alone. My life has, to a certain extent, very, very often been far more spirit centric than is healthy than is healthy for a person who lives in a body. So, again, coming back [inaudible 00:32:17] the ascent, coming back out of initiatory experiences and the troubles that I've had with coming out of initiatory experiences.
And then there are people who have the opposite experience. They're living solely in a western consumerist secular materialistic model and as much as we're told this is satisfying; the next step is to go to college. The next step is to have a kid. They're not satisfied, so they need someone, because again, we can't do this alone, who has that access to the other side. I think we [inaudible 00:32:57] I'd like to see us culturally become more spirit centric than we are. Yes, not because I just want to jerk spirits off, but because I think that our relationship to the spirit world offers us a lot when it comes to understanding of right relationship. But I think we need both. I think we need both sides.
Andrew: I wasn't anticipating this episode to be a tour de force of identity and good boundaries and groundedness, but we're coming back to these ideas. I think that it's important. Mostly, I just do my work, to be honest. My own initiatory practice and my God kids and stuff, that's one piece of time, running my own business and reading for people and doing work for people and running the store is plenty of time and then you throw a couple kids into the mix and you try and have some time to have fun it's like, "Man, that's all the time I've got." I tend to drift in and out of looking at what's going on in other places in terms of social media and so on. And maybe we're sliding into the shade part of the conversation now, so we'll see.
Chiron: We are.
Andrew: But, it's interesting to me what counts as animism. And for me, there's this question of does everything have energy? Absolutely. Does everything have a consciousness that we can interact with and benefit from interacting with? Meh. I become less certain about that at a certain point. And I think that this question of animism, for me, is one of where are the limits of it? Where are the values of it? What is functional? I remember, I had the pleasure to spend a bunch of time with done indigenous elders for northern Quebec and one of the things that we talked about when they were talking with me about the energies that are around me and people's reactions to them and stuff was like, "Yeah, some people be worried about that, but I don't worry about it. We don't worry about it." Like if something shows up, the question is what can we put it to work on? What can it do, what can it accomplish in this situation? And they said specifically the phrase, "If the devil shows up, that's fine. We just put them to work too."
But for me, with this question of animism, there's this functional piece that I'm always curious about and that I don't always see in other practices. And that may well be because I don't understand the internal process that they're doing with it or maybe because it's just not present. But I'm curious, for you, how do you think about animism? What are your relationships to the boundaries of that or engaging with that at this point in your journey?
Chiron: At this point in my journey, I think a lot has to do with the local for me. The local and what needs to be paid attention too. And that's going to be different for every person. And I think there might be things that are particularly exciting to me or interesting to me and I have to be aware of my biases in that respect as a professional spirit worker who is also doing readings and stuff. What biases am I generally bringing into my readings? What ideas? What has been [inaudible 00:36:53] to me? What have I found interesting or have survived through that might have no bearing on the life of my client and might even require me to say, "You know what? I'm going to send you for a referral to this other person [crosstalk 00:37:06] since I, in terms of the boundaries of animism, I'm currently speaking to you via my laptop on my desk, neither of which I make any offerings to or generally consider a conscious [inaudible 00:37:21] of land and house spirits because those kinds of energies have fucked me up to no end in the past in tiny ways that I've had to gain an awareness of and my relationship to and tend to those kinds of relationships in different ways.
And going back to what you were saying about the indigenous elders from Quebec, how do we put at that time to work, it reminded me a little bit of something a client said to me recently after a spirit helper's consultation. Everything in my work is highly actionable. If you have a session with me that is especially spirit oriented, at the end of the hour or hour and a half, what I'm generally telling something at the end of every session is I know this was weird, profound, crazy, interesting, resonant. The last thing I want you to do is leave this session thinking 10 years from now, "I had an interesting experience with a shaman who told me some weird things and..." No. You have homework. There are things to do. Everything here is actionable. Some of the things I have expounded upon were to give you a better felt sense of the reasons why this is actionable and why this worthy of your attention.
But all of these energies are meant to be cultivated. There are actions to take. Everything is about being highly actionable.
Andrew: Yeah, I think of it like I don't want people to leave a session identifying with something.
Andrew: I remember reading for this person and they just like, "Yeah, yeah, you're right, that's my problem, that's this, that's whatever. That's great advice. Yeah I should do that. Whatever." And we finished the whatever amount of time we had and they were like, "Oh, but I'm a Gemini, so I just never will." And I was just like, "Wow. Man that identity is so destructive to you."
And I think that my time with Crowley and the Thalamic stuff was really helpful. There's a lot of it I've left behind at this point. But one of the ideas that comes up there is success is the proof. You do a thing, you take the action and something happens. Or there's an alchemical saying that I came across at one point where it's like, "Work and be free." Like, "Show up and do the work." Do the things and then the rest of it comes from there. And it's not about coming to divination to create or solidify an identity, but to learn to do the actions that make the change. External, internal, whichever.
Chiron: Work and be free. I love that. I'm taking that.
Andrew: Yeah. I'm actually going to make a little piece of art that goes above the door to my studio that just says that so that I can be like, "Yeah. Why am I here today? Oh, I'm here to do that. Okay. Why are other people here today? For me to facilitate them doing that."
Chiron: Yeah. For sure.
Andrew: All right. So, let's talk about shade then. Now that we've done all that stuff, let's talk about shade. I enjoy your Instagram because it is delightfully full of shade. And especially in ways that... because sometimes shade is just straight up meanness in a way that I don't dig. I'm just like, "Eh, that's not really funny. You're just being a jerk now for no good reason." But tell me how you think about shade. Tell me how you approach this. Because I actually think it's one of your magical works, the way in which you go about it.
Chiron: I'm someone who has spent a lot of time in this lifetime trying to be very nice and trying to be very good and wanting to be loved. And it is so at odds with certain energies that show up in various traditions of my life that do not give a fuck. They really just don't give a fuck. And part of my own healing has been becoming someone who gives less of a fuck and has been becoming someone who is not afraid to speak my truth. As corny as that sounds and After School Special as that sounds, it can be a real issue for people who've struggled with boundaries throughout their life, for people who might even have a performance background and are very used to acting and trying to be palatable. And the year that I finally come to understand.
There's also a story we tell in our collective mainstream new age spirituality that someone who does the work that I do is supposed to be nice. And [inaudible 00:42:42] someone who traditionally actually supposed to be very ornery. Actually traditionally someone like me is very ornery and frightening and it's been like, "Okay, I should accept that." I should accept that I have come to have certain experiences in this lifetime and see certain things that really if anyone saw them, they would probably be, consider humanity somewhat distasteful and that's okay. The parts of me who are sometimes fed up with individual and collective bullshit are totally valid. It is not my job to quickly bury that so that I can coddle everyone.
I do think that there is a tremendous lack of comfort that [inaudible 00:43:34] harm in a real nurturing, rooted sense of identity, etc., etc. however, when it comes to certain topics and certain ways of being, especially when it comes to other spirit workers, I think that it really serves me as a way of calling us in to have some shade and to be a little bit bitchy. Yeah. So, that's where I am with shade right now. There's a lot I don't share that only the people closest to me might hear. But I [inaudible 00:44:07].
Andrew: And by the way, half the listenership was just like, "How do I get on that private list of extra shade? Where do I sign up for that? Is there a Patreon for that? Can I get some extra shade Patreon please?"
Chiron: I guess the shade that's generally going on in my head and heart just has to do with the collective stories that we tell about power and how frustrated I am with them. Experience in the spirit world, whether they be our collective very, very strong attachment to certain identities that may or may not serve us or may not be actually actionable, may have nothing to do with, that to me sometimes are very, very distracting. I can say, "Witch, witch, witch, witch, witch. I'm such a witch. I'm wearing all black. I'm such a witch, I'm such a witch. I have all the stones." And I'm like, "This is so distracting me from this very specific [inaudible 00:45:11] woman ancestor who has been trying to get me to do this very specific work that would enable you to, if went through what she's trying to get you to understand and see, bring some healing to your family, but no, you're so caught up in this glitz and idea.
Or I'm coming originally and primarily from a folk magic background, an urban folk magic background, a New York City filled with botanicas, different traditions, but always the story about like, "Oh, that ungan, he is so powerful over there doing that really big intense work and the cemetery is so powerful." And I remember very early in my professional practice and having clients coming to me who were being thrown at by people who were very effective, but always this conversation about "Chiron, I really hope you can help. This person is so powerful." And needing to start breaking that down. What do you mean by that? What's the conversation? Because there's a lot of, a lot of our stories about power are really caught up in the abstract. We actually don't know what the fuck we're talking about when we're saying that I am a, or that some else is so powerful.
And then, [inaudible 00:46:39] I've often found to play out when someone specifically, we'll talk specifically just because it's a good template around the conversation of curses and crossed conditions. Oftentimes when someone is coming to me and they are really invested in entertaining the story that the person who is working against them is so powerful, what's often playing out is a few things. One, if someone actually is throwing at them, they aren't someone who is just abstractly powerful in the sense that they had just training very, very well and is truly in harmony with the tremendous force. Usually that person might be, frankly, very possessed and full of intrusive energies. Oftentimes it's someone who has no real hold on their own power. [crosstalk 00:47:30]
Andrew: Sure. Or they have a ton of rage or something. Some massive-
Chiron: Yeah. And it's flying [crosstalk 00:47:36]
Andrew: [crosstalk 00:47:36] emotional energy and every now and then, they just narrow it down on person X and then something happens. That's not power. [crosstalk 00:47:45]
Andrew: Not in the sense that people mean it in this conversation. Yeah.
Chiron: Exactly. And then I think about, okay, well what about your own vulnerabilities? And I don't mean that in a victim blaming way, but oftentimes when someone has gone to a significant extent of cleansings and reversals and protection work and they have not found it to be effective and I've often found that that person has certain, rather odd vulnerabilities. I have absolutely seen people who might have an ancestral curse that makes them especially vulnerable through curses from the feminine. And now you have this, perhaps a woman who is in a rage and she was in a rage against you 10 years ago and you just have to shake it off. Those kinds of things happen.
So, to me, power is what is actually happening in this person's energetic sphere that's allowing them to have broad influence and understanding of and attempts to heal one's vulnerabilities to me is also powerful. And then we just do not give enough credence to the simple, humble, heart-centered medicine person in the remote setting, who by way of their initiatory experiences and the work that they do on themselves, has made themselves nearly invulnerable to harm, nearly invulnerable to some of the macro possessions that we have going on in the world. And that kind of person to me is the most powerful, frankly.
Andrew: Yeah. And I think that the more people tell you how powerful they are, the more they're not, for one. The more somebody needs to express that, the less really stuff is going on there. I, I did martial arts for a long time and I worked as a bouncer for a while to see where I had gotten with my skill because I didn't want to go get in real fights, but I did want to be in real situations. And it became really obvious. It's in the way you carry yourself.
And I think that in the same way that maybe those humble practitioners where people wouldn't identify them as showing the signs of power, I think that a lot of work that fixes things also don't show the signs of power. If you need a spiritual cleansing and we're like, "Oh, you know what? Burdock says it's going to help you here. So, you go down to the park with a little shovel or something, this is what it looks like, go and talk to it, make this offering. Dig up some of the roots and take a bath in that." Or whatever. It's like, "Oh, but don't I need candles and don't I need the-". I'm like, "No, you don't need anything. You just need this. This will fix everything."
Because power on a magical level doesn't necessarily look like we expect it to. Or we have become accustomed to it being performance as. And it's not to say that there aren't those times for those big things. You and I both participate in traditions that have big things. I went to a Awan for Babalú-Ayé, big community cleansing and it's a whole production. But that's its own thing. That's not the small things. And often even then, people come for traditional divination with the Orishas and the answer is "Yeah. Bring this for Shango. Shango wants a pomegranate. He wants some bananas. He wants whatever. Oh, do this. Get a couple coconuts. Okay, you're good."
It doesn't need to be dramatic in order to be effective.
Chiron: As you were saying there's room for the dramatic. The dramatic kind of [inaudible 00:52:02] need to happen in some capacity [inaudible 00:52:06] is learning when and where and If I tried to make every cleansing that I do dramatic, I would never get anything done. And I [inaudible 00:52:14] one of the reasons why I fucking love diloggun and I fucking love the... Evil is very often very simple. But the effects are tremendous. And I revel in when my spirits tell me to refer a client to a diloggun reader because I'm like, "Oh. Yeah. You're going to get the medicine back. You're going to get the medicine."
Andrew: For sure. And think that that's definitely a thing too. That referral. You said it already. I think it makes tons of sense too.
I want to go back to this question about thing though, before we wrap up today, about being a nice person. Because I think that there are a bunch of false dichotomies or false positions around this conversation. On the one hand, you have the people who feel everybody should be nice, spiritual people should be nice and kind and calm and benevolent and whatever all the time. They shouldn't be ornery or anything else. And then on the other hand, you have this people who feel that they should be dark and powerful, gothic as it were. Whether literally or functionally. And then I think there's all these other positions.
What do you think about that? You've been moving away from being nice, you've been moving towards being more direct. How would you describe that position? What advice would you give to people around trying to make sense of those kinds of positions?
Chiron: Well, one thing that I've been studying a lot over the past few years is the energy of collusion, the ways in which we unconsciously make ourselves available for things that are not our truth or things that support us. The things that done support other people. There's so much evidence of what collusion looks like in spiritual community and politics, in the entertainment industry. And I am becoming more and more aware of place in my own life where I collude.
I just shared on Facebook some months ago this moment where I was walking through the San Francisco BART station and a beautiful person who was asking for donations was singing and I really, I had already made some charitable efforts earlier in the week. I also was broke as fuck. And I just had a couple of things I wanted to get done that day, but this person's song was like a siren song. It was one of those beautiful voices and they had a sign up and I'm walking and I'm like, "I really want to support this person." I strongly believe in acting from a place of movement in one's heart and I'm feeling moved in my heart right now, but I really can't give right now. Do I share their sound cloud? What can I do to make this energy move?
[inaudible 00:55:26] of me who looks at this person who's singing and looks at me and grins as we are exiting the BART station. And the grin was something that felt like, "Oh, poor unfortunate soul. We're not that person, right?" Like, "Look at us ascending out of the San Francisco BART station into the light with whatever resources we have. And in that person meeting my eyes, I suddenly felt a lot safer and more comfortable not making any effort. And in that moment, I was able the catch that unconscious collusion that would happen. Now, this isn't significant. There's no children in cages involved here. There's no sex abuse claims that I'm d- it was just so simple and small and tiny and perhaps even slightly laughable, but it was a very important moment for me to recognize a place in which I was vulnerable to other people taking me off of my center.
Andrew: Well, and for, as a straight looking cis dude, the amount of dudes who try and pull me off of my beliefs about equality and feminism and gender identities and all these things, it's amazing how much effort there is to create that collusion where people will be like, "Oh, bla-bla-blah." I'm like, "Dude, that's a sexist joke. I don't actually find that funny." Or whatever. And the amount of persistence and pressure. And I think that when I listened to that story, one of the things that I hear and I think is really important is on the one hand, it's not cosmically and historically changing a particular moment, but when we have those experiences where we notice the collusion and we make a different choice, then that creates more space for us to free ourselves from that collusion and to continue that centeredness. And I think that this goes back to the, the simple Imbolc, the simple offering. It's not always lightning flash awakened everything moment. Sometimes it's those little things that start shaking us onto a different path, a more centered path, a more authentic path.
Chiron: [inaudible 00:58:07] things that have a hold on us individually and collectively that need to be fought against. Coming back to the conversation around niceness. Well, what about justice? No justice, no peace. And there are things that need to be fought against. There are things that we are all in agreement with. There are ways in which I myself am still colluding with past abusers in my own way. They might not be physically in my life, but the parts of me that are like, "Yeah, you kinda do suck, Chi. You kinda did deserve to be treated that way." This is an ongoing conversation around healing and reorienting ourselves towards the energies of healing and justice and that's not going to be nice. And that's not going to be complacent.
Andrew: Well I read this interesting brief piece that got me thinking somebody from my kink community was writing this piece about being a nice guy versus being a good guy. I mean, linguistically we could shake it up in different directions, but the point that they were getting at and where it took my mind was essentially what they were talking about was when we're being a quote/unquote nice guy, we are doing positive behaviors in one way or another or nice behaviors in one way or another with the expectation of reward. With the expectation that it will get us something or take us somewhere. And they were talking about being a nice guy in order to eventually get the person you want to be with and stuff like this versus being a good person, which they put forward as being honest, being direct, being authentic. Being really deeply real and not necessarily not being kind or whatever, but also not doing it with, not being kind or nice with ulterior motives, which ultimately isn't niceness.
And I think that in our culture, there's a lot of niceness. Going along to get along, being polite to avoid problems and sometimes that's absolutely important. Sometimes it's better than what else might happen, but I think that this question of being centered and authentic and genuine versus trying to make everything smooth, easy, nice and so on.
Chiron: Yeah, totally. The promise of reward, but even the promise of safety.
Chiron: [crosstalk 01:00:51]
Andrew: And that's definitely a reward. That's an inauthentic equation. I'm being nice because I want this thing and not that that might not be like, "Please, if you need to do stuff to be safe, be safe. Please, everybody." But there's an inauthenticity there-
Andrew: ... which it behooves us to, as we are able to work away from.
Chiron: Absolutely. Abs- and I would say a significant part of my work is looking at times in childhood when we were making compromises to be safe around the adults around us who weren't actually adults.
Andrew: Or to get that love or to get that affection or whatever. Any of it. For sure. Yeah. For sure.
Well, I think that is a profound and wonderful place to wrap this up. Let's shake off those things. Let's challenge those collusions or as my friend might call them, internalized oppressions and let's move on from there. Let's see what we can do to change ourselves and change the world.
Andrew: Yeah. Remind everybody where they can find you okay? People should absolutely follow you on Instagram, but there are other places too.
Chiron: Sure. On Twitter and Instagram I'm Chiron Armand. And I have a Facebook page, Impact Shamanism. My website is impactshamanism.com.
Thank you so much for having me.
Andrew: Oh, it's been absolutely a pleasure. It's been as delightful as I imagined it might be.
Friday Nov 29, 2019
Friday Nov 29, 2019
Friday Nov 29, 2019
This long overdue episode was record back in the summer.
Andrew and Mal talk about the nature of magic, initiation, religious practice and more. They talk a lot about how to know if you are on the right track and the pitfalls of walking a magical path. The upsides and pitfalls of gnosis. How to become a bishop by chance and much more.
Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here.
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.
ANDREW: [00:00:02] Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am joined today by Mal Strangefellow. And I've been following Mal online for quite a while. And recently, he's gotten into starting a church. And [00:00:17] a lot of the dialogue around that has been very fascinating to me. So I thought that inviting him on to talk about some of these things would be really entertaining because I think there's so many fascinating questions about legitimacy, legacy, [00:00:32] lineage, and all sorts of stuff that people are or ought to be thinking about as they're going about in various traditions right now, and at the birth of something new, seems like a great place to revisit those conversations. So, for people who [00:00:47] might not know you, Mal, give us, give us the introduction. Who are you? What are you about?
MAL: [laughing] Oh, wow, um, you know, and I don't mean this to sound, sound like I'm bragging. It's mostly just because [00:01:02] I'm getting older and my memory is lagging, but when you, when you've done, I don't want to say so much, but when you've done enough, at some point, it starts to become difficult to figure out how to answer that question. [00:01:17] [laughing]
MAL: I got my start in esoterica during the mid-80s. I'm solidly in that, you know, Boomer cusp/early Gen X region. [00:01:34] Went into, went into the army right out of high school, and after that, got it into my head that I wanted to be a Buddhist monk.
MAL: And ended up doing [00:01:49] that for a number of years. I was a Tibetan Buddhist monk, a novice and, and fully ordained getsu and gelong. After a few years, or early 90s, wanted to go and get a college degree, [00:02:04] went to the University of Oregon--go Ducks!--and you know, discovered that it's a lot harder to be a celibate monk in a university than it is in a monastery!
ANDREW: [laughing] Uh huh. [00:02:19]
MAL: Go figure!
ANDREW: I imagine.
MAL: And ended up returning my vows, and, at that point, just kind of wandered back and forth among a number of different things, sort of exploring [00:02:35] alternate routes of spirituality, continuing to practice magic. Of course, the Internet was really just sort of starting to become popular at this time. You know, we were moving beyond the [00:02:50] text-based, green screen kind of stuff and actually getting a graphical interface to the Internet discussion boards. Alt magic, of course, was going like gangbusters. This is just at the cusp of the, the [00:03:05] infamous Golden Dawn Wars of the early, early to mid-90s, and ended up getting involved with the Golden Dawn. Was--actually, my neophyte initiation in the Golden Dawn was done [00:03:20] with Israel Regardie's handmade tools, and I believe a mutual friend of ours, Poke Runyan, was the keryx for that and gave me his flu.
ANDREW: That's a magical blessing, indeed.
MAL: [00:03:35] Right? And kind of . . . There was some floundering, I would say towards the late 90s. Got involved in the Temple of Set, stayed there long enough to [00:03:50] be recognized to the third degree, their priesthood, at which, and this, I bring this up because it encompasses sort of a pivotal event for me. James Grabe was [00:04:05] also a member of the temple and a member of the OTO, and at the time, when I actually met him in person, there, he was on the outs with the current leadership. I [00:04:20] mean, he has made, I don't know if I'm saying that right, I've never done any OTO stuff. So. That guy. And I don't know what there was, so I don't know if they were, I think there was some sort of lawsuit or some-- Anyway, they were pissed [00:04:35] off. We were at a conclave, which is an annual temple gathering, and we were in the hotel bar, and just sort of chatting, and you know, I was a second degree adept at the time, and so I was star struck at his degree and [00:04:50] his history. And we were just talking and he was mostly talking. And he had mentioned that he had apostolic succession as a bishop, and one of the things, among other things, that the current leadership wanted from him was consecration [00:05:06] as a bishop for their EGC.
MAL: And he was basically just inviting them to peruse the fine example of the back of his middle finger on that.
MAL: And you know, he said, "You know what, basically, [00:05:21] I'll consecrate, you know, anybody else, anybody but them. Right? Hell, you want to be consecrated?" and I was like, "Um, yeah, okay." He's like, "All right, cool." So we actually made a plan for the next night. He [00:05:36] had a suite in the hotel and I showed up and we went through deacon priest and I was consecrated a bishop that night. And it was like, "Here you go. Now, you're a bishop." I was like, "Well, awesome. Thank you." This is [00:05:51] 1998-99-ish and, which, oddly enough feels like, you know, maybe five or ten years ago for me, but . . .
MAL: Yeah, I was like, you know, "So what do I do with this?" It was like fuck, [00:06:06] I don't care. Can I say fuck? I can say fuck, right?
ANDREW: You can say fuck. It's fine. Go ahead.
MAL: All right, cool. Fuck, yeah. [laughing] He was like, "I don't care," you know, "here's some stuff," and I got like loose leaf print outs, you know, some ideas that he had had [00:06:21] about sort of a Johannite spirituality and you know, I got, you know, an old Xeroxed copy of his succession, apostolic succession, and stuff like that, and I just sort of filed it away and did nothing with it. [00:06:36]
MAL: Until I resigned, after I resigned from the temple as a priest. It was, you know, interpersonal political stuff.
ANDREW: Isn't it always, right?
MAL: Right, you know, it's, there was a group that was up-and-coming [00:06:51] in the temple. They have since been, been purged out, but I was not in that group, and ended up just resigning rather than dealing with all of the, the people bullshit that comes with that, and [00:07:06] in trying to figure out, all right, what the hell do I want to do now? Said, you know, well, I've got these kind of things to fall back on. I wonder if I could do this? And so I pulled out all of James's stuff and decided [00:07:21] you know what, fuck it. I'm, I'm a start a church!
And that's how the Apostolic Johannite church was founded, [laughs] and I ended up posting on a couple of message boards online at the time: "Hey, are [00:07:36] you interested in an esoteric organization and an esoteric church?" And got a couple of hits. One of the very first ones was, of course, the current patriarch of the AJC, and you know, the rest there is history. [00:07:51] I ran the AJC for a couple of years, and at that time, kind of felt like I had some unfinished stuff that I wanted to do elsewhere. Plus, [00:08:06] I feel like, at least for me at that time, it took a different personality to run things than it did to start them, and I didn't know that I had the personality to keep that [00:08:21] thing going, and I feel justified in making this statement, you know, in hindsight 20/20, but just in looking at how well they've done, you know, since I, since I handed it over to Sean McCann, their current patriarch, you know, I think [00:08:36] it's the, like the largest, fastest growing international gnostic church on the planet right now, some crazy crap like that.
ANDREW: So. Let me ask you a question.
MAL: Yeah, yeah!
ANDREW: Cause you've talked about so many things here and I want to . . .
MAL: I know, I'm sorry.
ANDREW: No. No, it's [00:08:51] why I had you on, I want to have these conversations and I love hearing you chat. What, what kind of personality does it take to run these things? Because you know, I've, you know, I've been in my share of, you know, I was in the OTO [00:09:06] in several different groups that all imploded or exploded. And I was in the Aurum Solace for a bunch of time, and change of leadership and it, you know, my local group was excommunicated. And you know, I [00:09:21] was in the AA for a while and there are various, you know, things with that, that just left me, you know, with nowhere to go. What is it, you know, and I've seen my share of that in the, in the Lukumi traditions as well, you know, different places. [00:09:36] What does it take to run a thing like that well? Because I feel like there's, you know, what I've seen is, there's, like, if there's a strong personality and they can kind of hold it together with their personality, [00:09:51] that works until it doesn't, until they leave or retire or whatever. What actually does work? What makes sense when it comes to sort of bigger organizations around that kind of stuff?
MAL: You know, I think you [00:10:06] kind of hit on it with the, the big personality, not in that that's the answer. But in that, that's not the answer.
MAL: I think a strong personality, a willingness to get shit [00:10:21] done, to say, you know, what, screw it, we're going this way. We're doing it. Like that's the kind of personality you need to start something, to really get it going, to gather people in, to inspire other people, but to keep it going, [00:10:37] I think you need somebody a lot more conciliatory.
MAL: You know, somebody, somebody who is open to, willing to, desirous of working with other people and incorporating them into the, [00:10:52] the, the living, you know, the daily life of the organization, a strong personality. You know, again, I think it's absolutely necessary to get a thing started.
MAL: [00:11:07] You know, there's just so much inertia there, at the beginning of anything that you need to build up a certain amount of momentum to, you know, to, to overcome initial obstacles and you know, nothing kills [00:11:22] momentum faster than a committee meeting.
ANDREW: [laughing] Especially if not much is already happening. Right?
MAL: Right. Right! You know? So you need that strong personality, but after you reach a certain point, I think that strong personality [00:11:37] becomes detrimental, you know?
MAL: And if you don't have it within you to drop that and become more conciliatory, then you're just kind of a, you know, you're kind of a bully, you, you end up with, you know, strong personality clashes [00:11:52] with other people who, you know, who might be able to come in and do amazing things. Yeah, I think of . . . Okay. So, a perfect example of this going back to where I was and where Sean McCann was at the beginning of the AJC when I handed things over to [00:12:07] him . . . You know, he was, he'd only been a bishop for like a year.
MAL: You know, I'd consecrated him and, to be fair, I had even gone, like right after his consecration, [00:12:22] I went on vacation!
ANDREW: Uh huh.
MAL: Like six months! [laughing] And I was like, you know what, I just need a break from all of this. I'm tired. You run things. Call me if you need to, but I'm out for a while. So, you know, really, even that first six months, he [00:12:37] was kind of running things. Because of his age, and because of his natural temperament at the time, you know, sort of, you know, not really sure of himself, [00:12:52] not wanting to make a mistake.
MAL: Okay. So the current primate of North America for the AJC, Mar Thoma, was a bishop with [00:14:07] another organization who came into the AJC. We had become friends while I was still there, but he officially joined the AJC after I left, and he is a very strong personality. But he's also [00:14:22] been, you know, has been just an amazing asset for the church and, you know, in looking back, I don't know, like, would I have given him the same opportunity? You know, when you've got those, the [00:14:37] two alpha dogs clashing, right? The, you know, the two strong personalities, would, would the same results have come about? And I'm not so sure that it would have, you know? I think by me stepping out and by Sean coming in [00:14:52] and having that, that natural conciliatory manner and welcoming him in, [coughs] excuse me, as a, another leader. I think that was a huge part of their success. And so, what does it take to run [00:15:07] an organization? I think it takes the ability to find, to find that in yourself, to realize that, you know, you know, it's not all about me.
MAL: If I care about this, if it's going to run, I need to, I need to be conciliatory. [00:15:22] Does that make sense?
ANDREW: Yeah, I think so, for sure.
MAL: Oh good, cool.
ANDREW: Because you know, yeah, a lot of people just . . . A lot of what I've seen is, it gets to a point where people are just like, look, it's my way or the highway, and then you know, and then you just [00:15:37] have, you know, whatever, right? Like, like the thing around the apostolic succession, where they're like, will you please give this to us? And be like, absolutely never, you know, like you just end up in these things where it's so stuck that there's no, there's no movement possible, right? You know?
MAL: Right, right.
ANDREW: [00:15:52] Mm-hmm.
MAL: Yeah, and you know, when you lay down something, like it's my way or the highway, you end up with a ton of fantastic people choosing the highway.
MAL: And, and you're left with, you know, just the, the sycophants, [00:16:07] and what happens to your, the organization, then? I mean, you mentioned your experiences in the Aurum Solis, and I remember, you know, when Leon proclaimed it an all Christian organization [00:16:22] when he was still, you know, Grandmaster. And, you know, it was that, this is it, it's my way or the highway. This is what we're proclaiming.
MAL: A bunch of people chose the highway! [laughing] You know, and then he kind of pulled back from that a little bit and then [00:16:37] somebody else took over and then [garbled right before 16:43] Anyway. Yeah, I think that that's a perfect example of what you were talking about. When you have leadership like that, [00:16:52] things tend not to grow organically and even if they do survive that personality, that type of personality, they don't survive the end of that personality.
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. For sure.
MAL: When that person dies or, you know, [00:17:07] converts to evangelical Christianity, and says, you know unicorns are bad or whatever. [laughing]
ANDREW: Sure. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think it's interesting. You know? I also think it's, it's interesting how . . . I wonder how, [00:17:22] contrary to what people might think, that that sort of more conciliatory aspect actually works to sustain the teachings versus dissipate them?
ANDREW: Because what I see where there, where there's no [00:17:37] or nominal flexibility, is then there's these sort of backlashes and waves that come back and forth, right? You know, the new group comes in and you know, they're, they're all, they're all into witchcraft, and that's it. And if you're a Christian, you're [00:17:52] out, right? In response to the Christians who are like, "Well we're Christian," you know. And especially in a group like the Aurum Solis that, at least sort of in its heyday was so founded on research, you know . . . I mean, I think that, you know, what's, what are you losing, [00:18:07] you know, by these massive sways, right? So, yeah.
MAL: Right, right. You know and also you get, you know, you get buy-in from everybody when, you know, regardless of the kind of organization, right? Whether it's a business or a teaching [00:18:22] order or a church or . . . You get buy-in with conciliatory leadership. You know, people feel like they have ownership, you know, they have a stake in it, and so they care about it. Whereas if it's just: here it is, [00:18:37] it's my way or the highway and then you know, well, okay, it's your way. It's never my way at that point, no matter where I am in the organization. If I'm not on top, it's never my way. It's always, I'm doing their way and you know, we as people, we [00:18:52] tend to like our way . . . [laughing]
ANDREW: Well, and especially more magically inclined people. Right?
MAL: Right. Yeah.
ANDREW: You know, I think there's, there's a tendency towards ego, you know, not necessarily in a bad sense, but just ego, that [00:19:07] doesn't really, if it's not addressed in some capacity, you know? So, how did, how did you find the transition of, how did you sort of manage that transition from Tibetan Buddhist practice, which [00:19:22] is pretty, you know, which is very structured, you know, to, to kind of your other practices, which sound like there are through lines, but they weren't as rigid? If that's fair. [00:19:37]
MAL: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. [lost words--exception?] about that. Yeah, you know, actually, I think it was . . . Being on sort of those diametric poles was beneficial to me.
MAL: You know, as structured and rigid as [00:19:52] Tibetan monastic life was, the Temple of Set, on the other hand, and I think why, why I enjoyed and sort of embraced what they were doing so much was because there's so much [00:20:07] more open, right? You know, you show up and one of their, their primary tenets from The Book of Coming Forth by Night is, you know, "the text of another is an affront to the self." You know, so, every, initiatory degrees, you know, [00:20:22] okay, it's time for you to be recognized as a second-degree adept. They don't confer initiations. They recognize after you've achieved something, and then they say, okay, well now, go write that initiation ritual, you know, go [00:20:37] do it. Go create it, you know, come up with your own, you know, have it, have it . . . You know, don't, don't just pull crap out of your ass, you know. There, there's, there's a very scholastic aspect to them. I think when I, when I [00:20:52] joined, I got a binder that was like, and I'm holding up my fingers. Nobody can see them. [laughing] It's like an inch and a half to two inches thick and the vast bulk of that was a reading list.
MAL: You know, so, and part of recognition [00:21:07] is, their recognition process is, go out and read these books.
MAL: Go out and study this material. Go find more and then come back and tell us what you think about it, you know. You know, so there's this, this, this scholarship and then this production [00:21:22] and it's really, you know, and I don't want to give the impression that it's this loosey-goosey kind of thing. But it, it is very different from the structure that I experienced in Tibetan Buddhism. Right?
MAL: And [00:21:37] I think I tried to incorporate some of that in in my later work and it's still something in my own personal practice and when I'm working with students, it's still something that even down to, you know, giving them offhand a reading [00:21:52] list.
MAL: And saying, you know, pick, pick six books, or pick three books, or whatever. Read them all from different categories, and then come back and let's talk about how, you know, what [00:22:07] material from this book on this topic and this book from this incredibly different topic. How do they play together?
MAL: And what do you get from reading both of those back-to-back that you wouldn't have gotten from reading either one separately, [00:22:22] right? In isolation. What, what new comes out of that? And I think that's sort of been, that came out of that experience, of strict rigid practice with, with Tibetan Buddhism and then the [00:22:37] more open, but, but scholastically-informed Setianism, like, like this kind of was born out of that, and I think that has been, regardless of what I've done since, sort [00:22:52] of my, my entire method of, approach for things.
MAL: Does that make sense? I really feel like I'm just rambling on . . .
ANDREW: No, no, not at all. It totally makes sense.
MAL: Okay cool.
ANDREW: I mean, for me I kind of went in the opposite direction. You know, I was doing ceremonial [00:23:07] stuff, you know, throwing some chaos magic, and you know, all that kind of . . . different things and then I'm, as I moved into Lukumi, and you know, the Orisha tradition that I got initiated in, it's, [00:23:22] there are just ways that things are done, you know.
ANDREW: And so it's been a move away from, from that kind of structure and a stepping into that structure, and what I see is that so many people struggle with that axis.
ANDREW: You know? Like, you know, [00:23:37] for people to accept that there is a way that things are done, or, you know, in light of a tradition, the way that things are done, and that that part isn't [00:23:52] subject to conversation so much is very difficult for a lot of people, you know?
MAL: But it's also a really important experience, I think.
MAL: You know, I went from the founding of the AJC into East Asian esoteric [00:24:07] Buddhism, tendai [spelling?], and from their Korean Zen, you know, Seon Buddhism, and those are both, I mean, you don't get more rigid than the Japanese.
MAL: And, but there's a purpose for that. You know, they, [00:24:23] there's this idea that when you take all of these people together and you force them to do this sort of thing, this sort of way, we kind of polish our rough edges off.
MAL: You know, and if everybody was just allowed to go off and do their own thing, [00:24:38] you would never find your rough edges, you know, and so in practicing tendai [spelling?] Buddhism and then in going through, you know, the Zen Buddhist koan curriculum, that was, it was very rigid, there's a way [00:24:53] you do it. There's even an entire different language almost for going through koans that if you don't, if you don't know it and if you don't do it, you're not going to pass. You're not going to advance. You know, it's almost [00:25:08] like learning that language, which is both, you know, poetic and performative. You know, there's a physical aspect to it. But learning that language is what allows your brain to operate [00:25:23] in the way that it needs to operate in order to get the insight that you need to get.
MAL: You know, there's no book that you could read that, that, that, you know, could tell you that. There's a story out of Daido Loori's [00:25:38] place, Zen Mountain Monastery, back when he was still alive. They had a book with all the answers to the koans in it, and somebody stole it. And one of the head monks was like, you know, ran up to Daido Roshi and was like, "Hey, you know, somebody stole the book. What are [00:25:53] we gonna do? What if they publish it?" And Loori Roshi was like, yeah, don't worry about it.
MAL: The answers aren't in the book. It doesn't matter what was written down. The answers aren't in the book.
MAL: The answers are what we see in front of us. It's like, you know, I live here in Cincinnati. [00:26:08] And, if you read a ton of books about Cincinnati, but had never been here, and then tried to pass it off, you know, in talking to somebody that was born and raised here, they'd know pretty quickly you're full of shit.
MAL: You know? [00:26:23] Whereas if you've both, you know, if you've been there, if you've visited there, if you're talking about "oh, man, you know, did they finish the construction over on . . ." or you know, all of that sort of stuff that just, you know, then they're like, "oh, yeah, yeah, you've been there." So I think . . . [00:26:39] There's definitely value to "this is the way things are done" for a lot of traditional things, just because, if you don't do it that way, you don't get the experience or have the effect that it's supposed [00:26:54] to provide, you know?
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. For sure. Well, it's why, you know, my experience of memorizing tables of correspondences when I was doing ceremonial stuff, you know?
ANDREW: I mean, on the one hand, it's like, well, why memorize [00:27:09] it, there are books, but on the other hand, it's, it preloads your cognition with a framework that stuff that wants to work within that framework can then work straight through . . .
ANDREW: As opposed [00:27:24] to, you know, having to attempt to bridge that gap without that extra framework there, you know?
MAL: Yeah. Absolutely.
ANDREW: It's possible, anybody can have a vision of, you know, take your pick, and that might be authentic and whatever, but It's [00:27:39] a lot rarer and it's really atypical, as opposed to sort of the, you know, that that more you've done the work, [lost words at 27:48? sounds like "you're fed up"?] and now they're going to show you a thing in this way.
MAL: Absolutely. Well, and you know, putting on my clinical [00:27:54] psych hat, in the middle of all of this I also went on and got various graduate degrees in psychology. We know that the thoughts that we think change the physical structure of our brains.
MAL: You know, and so, memorizing [00:28:09] tables of correspondences, it's not just putting information in your head so that you can have it at quick recall. It's literally making a physical change to your brain.
MAL: Is that physical change necessary? Is that, [00:28:24] you know, an integral component to the experience that you're trying to have? I-- Maybe not, but maybe it is, and if that's the case, if it's not just about being able to have something on immediate recall, in which case, you know, why don't [00:28:39] I just load, preload 777 on my phone?
MAL: And then if I, if I need to know a correspondence, I'll pick it up. But you know, if it's not just about having that piece of information, but if it's about the change that it's affecting in your brain that is allowing [00:28:54] you to maybe perceive or experience, you know, something, then, you know, by not doing it, you're either never going to get there, or, like you said, it's going to be really damn rare that you get the experience that, you know, that [00:29:09] you're hoping for.
ANDREW: Yeah. I think the, the, you know, the real answer is, the magic is in many, many parts of it, right?
ANDREW: And not just in the quote unquote secret word that activates the ritual or what, right? [00:29:24]
MAL: [laughing] Exactly!
ANDREW: It's got so many parts of it that that are not, they're not necessarily glamorous. They're almost never talked about overtly in books or in other contexts, right?
ANDREW: You know, I almost never see anybody talk about [00:29:39] that when I read a book about magic. It's like "yeah," and then you just like, do this thing and it'll happen. It's like, oh, maybe, maybe so.
MAL: [laughing] Yeah. Sure. It's just the magic word. You just say the word, the word.
ANDREW: Well, the bird is the word, right? That's where we'll go with that?
MAL: [laughing] [00:29:56] Yeah. Well, I was going to say, Aidan Wachter recently made a post that I think brilliantly comes to this point and it was a . . . Oh, how did [00:30:11] it go? [sighs] See, I brought it up. Now I should at least be able to remember it, but it was along the lines of you know, the vast majority of success comes from mastering the basics.
MAL: Not from some advanced, you know, rarefied thing, you know, [00:30:26] and he was coming from it from both an esoteric and a physical, you know, point of view. And I thought it was brilliant when I saw that.
ANDREW: Yeah. I remember that post. He was basically sort of saying like, you know, sure, some super custom tailored [00:30:41] fancy technique might get you this extra increase, because--it was coming from a fitness training point of view, the article that he linked to--but the reality is, you know, showing up four days a week and you know doing the basic things, [00:30:56] that's going to get you almost everything and the other stuff is, you know, especially over the arc of time, right? So.
MAL: Right. And that applies to so much of what we do, right? Just showing up and doing the basic stuff. And . . .
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Absolutely. [00:31:13]
MAL: Oh crap, there was, where was I going to go? There was . . . ? Eh, never mind. It'll come back to me if . . . [laughing]
ANDREW: Let me ask you this question, then. So . . .
ANDREW: We've popped out this term a couple times here and there: gnostic.
ANDREW: What is, [00:31:28] what does that mean to you? What does that mean? You know, like I hear it a lot. I've seen it a lot. You know, I mean, you know, Crowley talked about it a bunch, you know different people talk about it, you know, there's the knights cathars and you know, all that stuff or whatever. [00:31:43] But what does it mean to you? What does it actually . . . What's the relevance of it at this point in time?
MAL: Sure. Well, so first off a caveat, I . . . Technically, I don't even really identify myself as gnostic any more, [00:31:59] which, I suppose is actually kind of peak gnosticism, itself.
ANDREW: We live in a post gnostic era?
MAL: Right. And I'm glad when you asked, you asked, you know, "What does gnosticism mean to you?" Because it is [00:32:14] a . . . I mean it's . . . We apply it retroactively to a lot of ideas, right? None of the ancient texts, like none of the Gnostic Gospels say, "And I am now writing this Gnostic Gospel."
MAL: Or, you know . . . [00:32:30] Gnosis, for me, the way, the way I learned it, the way I taught it, and the way I experienced it, gnosis is knowledge as opposed to [00:32:45] information.
MAL: And specifically, it's that, it's that noetic apprehension that comes after the sort of die neue [spelling?]. [00:33:00] After the intellectual information gathering and crunching and . . . It's an apprehended knowing, you know, in the spiritual sense. More mundanely, it's just knowing [00:33:15] right? It's eating peanut butter rather than having somebody read off the ingredient list of peanut butter to you.
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah. The experience of it.
MAL: Yeah, you can never tell somebody else what peanut butter tastes like.
MAL: You can taste it then and then from then on you will forever and always [00:33:30] know what peanut butter tastes like. And that is, you know, exponentially different from knowing what goes into it.
MAL: And, and so, in a spiritual and in a magical sense, then, gnosis is [00:33:45] that experience, just like we were talking about, that experience that comes from doing certain things.
MAL: You know, and, and it's specifically that experience that can only come from doing certain [00:34:00] things as opposed to just reading about them. Whether that's a, you know, an in esoterica or spiritual, religious, and, and oftentimes those are blended. You know, you can read about an experience [00:34:15] of the divine. Or you can have it. I think one of the most underappreciated esoteric texts out there is by St. John Chrysostom, in defense of the hesacasts. So hesacasts, heretic [00:34:30] Orthodox, not heretic but almost, near heretic Orthodox sect, who practiced hesachasm, this, this mystical combination of the Jesus prayer kind of a yoga position and breathing [00:34:45] technique that they said would allow you to experience the energies of the divine.
MAL: In fact, you know, advanced practitioners of this were said to literally physically glow, like they would just glow in the dark. And this got [00:35:00] a lot of bishops' panties in a twist and John Chrysostom wrote this brilliant defense of them, basically laying out theologically why this, this theosis, this knowing of [00:35:15] God is not heretical. You know, they're not saying they can know God, because you can't wrap a finite mind around an infinite thing, but you can experience, right? Can you hear that humming right now?
ANDREW: [00:35:30] No, from your side? No.
MAL: Yeah, so, my mic, I'm going to flick it real quick. [thump] I fixed it. Sorry, I've got a loose connector there.
ANDREW: Uh huh.
MAL: But, you can experience it. You can have an experience of it and he likened it to a number of different things. [00:35:45] One of them was, you know, sitting in a ray of sunshine: you know it, you can experience it. It's not all of it. Nobody's saying it is. But that, that's gnosis to me, [00:36:00] that experience.
ANDREW: So, let's, I'm gonna ask you a really unfair question. Okay?
MAL: Okay. Sure.
ANDREW: So, how do people determine what is different [00:36:15] between an authentic gnosis with something, with a spirit, with god, with wherever, and a more [00:36:30] psychological, or, you know, even intellectualized engagement with it, you know? Because there's so many people who have experiences of different things, and you know, going back to your, your Zen stuff [00:36:45] and to your Tibetan stuff. There are very clear things that are markers, right? For what's an authentic experience, you know, and I even remember when I was in the Aurum Solis, I came to my teacher and I was like, I had this, I had this experience [00:37:00] with one of the archangels, and they showed up in this way. And he's like, "Great," and then he pulls out a piece of paper and shows like, pulls out a book from his notes about it and shows me what I saw. He's like, that's, that's [00:37:15] because you're, you've moved beyond your own cognitive stuff being in the way of that connection.
ANDREW: You know? So, how do people know that, though? How do people even begin to work with that if this is a new idea for [00:37:30] them?
MAL: You know, it's, the easiest way is having a teacher, right?
MAL: There's the famous story of Gampopa and Milarepa, his, the yogi Milarepa, who was Gampopa's meditation [00:37:45] teacher and at that time, you know, the Tibetans generally don't meditate in groups. They don't do silent meditation. They get the instruction. They go away, they practice, then they come back. And Gampopa came to his, Milarepa after some time practicing, [00:38:00] and he's like, "I don't know what's going on, but I'm beset by devils constantly. This is what . . ." And Milarepa was like, "Just chill out, keep doing the practice, that that'll all go away." A few months later, Gampopa comes back again, and he was like, "Teacher, you're, you're so right. It's amazing. [00:38:15] All the devils were chased off. Now. I'm visited constantly by angels and dakinis and it's just wonderful and it's bliss." And Milarepa was like, "Uh huh, that's cool. Just keep practicing, that will go away."
MAL: You know, having that that teacher that can that can guide you . . . [00:38:30] You know, in Buddhism, especially in Tibetan Buddhism, emptiness, shunyata, big deal, and having an experience of emptiness is a big deal. Like this is [00:38:45] one of the major mileposts and the literature is just scattered with warnings about, you know, don't intellectualize this, don't intellectualize this, because [00:39:00] when you do, when you get an idea in your head of what that experience is, you reify it and then you're stuck, right? You're stuck with that idea. And you think "Oh, I have had this experience and therefore . . ." You know, and without [00:39:15] sort of that external verification by somebody else who's been there, right? Without talking about Cincinnati with somebody who's also been there, you know and confirm: Yes. Absolutely. I know exactly the street corner you're talking about, or you know, whatever, you can easily [00:39:30] be led astray.
How, how does somebody working on their own do this? Well, that's tough, you know, at that point, I think you have to, [00:39:45] I think initially approach, you know, unverified personal gnosis, UPG, with skepticism.
MAL: You know, I think that has to be the default when you're on your own, no matter how amazingly lifelike and 3D [00:40:00] this apparition was, or like, initially approach it with some degree of skepticism, keeping in your mind, well, this could just be wishful thinking or this could be, you know, whatever, [00:40:15] and then give it time, right? If it was a teaching, if it was a practice, if it . . . Does it bear out?
MAL: Are there, are there, are there are external things that coincide with it? If you . . . You know, you're given a vision of this, you know, amazing new practice [00:40:30] and then the very next day somebody randomly starts talking to you about, you know, a symbol which is exactly like the linchpin for that practice or, you know, you know, somebody brings you something that you [00:40:45] specifically need in order to . . . You know, you look for confirmation still from outside, even if it's not from a specific like teacher in a lineage of a thing . . .
MAL: You're still looking for that external confirmation. [00:41:00] And it may not be for years and years and years that all of a sudden something happens and then it clicks and you're like, oh my God, I had that dream, you know, three years ago about this and then here is this . . . [00:41:15] Holy crap. This is a, you know, okay, then you go with it. But no, if otherwise, if somebody shows up and just says, "hey, you're the chosen one," or you know, you're yet another incarnation of Alistair, or you know, whatever, [00:41:30] you know, maybe keep that in your back pocket.
ANDREW: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I think that that time will tell, right?
ANDREW: Time will tell. We'll see if this holds the test of time, for sure.
MAL: Right, you know, and you can have, I think, amazing personal experiences that are meaningful [00:41:45] to you.
MAL: That you never say anything to anyone about or do anything with. And that's okay.
MAL: They don't have to be huge revelations. Or they don't have to be, you know, even if it was something that was just the product of your own mind, [00:42:01] maybe it's useful to you. But again, yeah, I think that in order to tell the difference between genuine, a genuine experience of gnosis, like that, yeah, it's external confirmation.
ANDREW: And so, [00:42:16] that brings back sort of one of the other questions that I wanted to check in about: what role does lineage play, for you, in all of these things? I mean, I know in my Lukumi lineage, you know, lineage is everything. You know? I mean [00:42:31] you are, you are, in that, in my tradition, you are initiated into the lineage.
ANDREW: You know, lineage becomes your family, and, and that changes so many different dynamics because of it. You know, it's not just like, it's not just [00:42:46] about the information that was passed from person to person, but it's actually the license to practice certain things, the requirement to practice them in a certain way in accordance with lineage, and a connection to all of those spirits who carried that [00:43:01] lineage forward, you know?
ANDREW: So it's a, it's a very living dynamic thing. What role does lineage play for you? And, and what do you see as its sort of values and challenges? You know?
MAL: Wow. [00:43:17] I'm going to cheat and refer back to something that I wrote a while ago.
ANDREW: Which is always welcome.
MAL: Okay, cool. I tend to think in terms of three different kinds of lineage for any organization.
MAL: Physical lineage, [00:43:33] practice lineage, and, you know, ultimate or primordial lineage, right? Which, so, and what do I mean by these? The physical lineage is just the people, the stuff, right? The boots on the ground, the people doing the thing, the [00:43:48] buildings, the, you know, the institution. The practice lineage is the stuff they tell you to do. Right? These are the, these are the teachings that ideally have been, you know, tried, [00:44:03] tested, passed on, initiatory aspects of initiatory power, right? That are meant to facilitate things. Obeah or apostolic succession. These are all conferrals of a power [00:44:18] meant to facilitate something. Sorry. I'm going to thump the mic here again.
ANDREW: I think you might be picking up on the, someone's running a shop vac or something downstairs. I'm also hearing that in the background.
MAL: [00:44:33] Then I'll trust it's on your end and not mine.
MAL: So, yeah, the practice lineage there. And then the primordial lineage is what you're ultimately connecting to via these three things, [00:44:48] right? So, the physical lineage exists primarily to transmit to the people it brings in. The practice lineage, which then facilitates connection to the [00:45:03] primordial lineage. And, you know, the first two exist ultimately . . . They function only to the point that they do those things, right? If at any point a physical institution loses its connection [00:45:18] to the primordial lineage, they're dead. Right? It's just a, it's a fossil. It's a club. It's a, it's, you know, it's cosplay or whatever. If the practices [00:45:34] no longer facilitate connecting you to that primordial lineage, then they're not doing their thing, right? They don't work anymore.
But then once that connection to the primordial lineage is made, at that [00:45:49] point, new practice lineages and new physical lineages can be instituted. Without that connection, they can't be. You know, this is, this is one of those things that, like in Buddhism, people, [00:46:04] there's this idea from people outside of it. For example, tons of sutra is attributed to the Buddha, but he, you know, we know historically he didn't say these things. The Buddha didn't write that. The Lotus Sutra isn't taught by the . . . But no, technically, yeah, he did, because [00:46:19] within . . . You know, the game rules of Buddhism state [chuckling] that there is only one Enlightenment, right? Buddha means awakened. Once you have had that experience, right, once you're connected [00:46:34] to that primordial lineage, there's no difference between you and Siddhartha Gautama, right? So, if you have legitimately had that experience within the game rules, you can write something today and [00:46:49] say this is a text by the Buddha.
MAL: And that's, you know, 100% legit. There are institutions [00:47:06] where I think you can bypass some of this, but I find them to be so phenomenally rare. Right? The person that just [00:47:21] stumbles upon either a practice lineage that works to connect them to a primordial lineage, or, or, you know . . . Okay, a big example of this, you know, with what I'm doing now, apostolic [00:47:36] succession is a huge thing. Right? There is a conferral of authority and power with that, without which, none of the other sacraments will be there. Period. Full stop. Yet, [00:47:51] within broader Christianity, very few people question the legitimacy of Paul as an apostle. Because in the middle of his, you know, previous [00:48:06] life as a, and I don't know if you can hear the air quotes I put around that, [chuckles] as a, you know, assassin for hire, he had this vision, on, was it, the [00:48:21] the road to Emmaus? [He means Damascus. The road to Emmaus is where Jesus appeared after his resurrection.] I think. Anyway, he had this vision of Christ and he converted and now he's an apostle.
MAL: And I think most, most people in the broader Christian world: "Okay, we'll accept that." You won't find any apostolic lineages, [00:48:36] I believe, tracing themselves back to Paul. I'd be surprised if you did, but you know, nobody lists him as an apostle with an asterisk by his name, kind of thing.
MAL: But you also then don't hear about this happening [00:48:51] all the damn time.
MAL: You know, nobody spontaneously . . . Well, damn it, okay. The gnostic revival in France in the 19th century, [laughing] Jules Doinel. Yeah. Okay, he claimed it. But then, even [00:49:06] he went on to get actual apostolic succession. So. You know, I think it's rare. It's more rare than people think.
ANDREW: I think there's a big difference between a connection to spirit, [00:49:23] you know, and even a spirit that might have, you know, like, you know, I mean, I'm certainly not the reincarnation of Crowley, but perhaps, perhaps I could connect to his spirit in a way, and his, his Spirit could act as [00:49:38] a guide and an animating force in my work, you know?
MAL: Absolutely, yeah.
ANDREW: I'm not saying that that happens per se, but, but that could happen. And that is not uncommon, you know.
ANDREW: [00:49:53] Like there, there are lots of things you know, where . . .
MAL: But, when those things do happen . . .
MAL: But when that does happen, there's a lot that preceded that.
MAL: Right? It doesn't, it doesn't happen to, you know, the random grocery [00:50:08] store clerk who has, you know, never even picked up a copy of book four, or you know, whatever. Right?
ANDREW: For sure. And, but that experience is also not necessarily the same as the experience of the [00:50:23] connection to that primordial, you know, energy or the current even though if I was connecting to Crowley, I'm connecting to you know, the prophet of Thelema, that doesn't mean that I'm actually connected [00:50:38] to that step behind that, you know?
MAL: Right. Right.
ANDREW: And I think that . . . I think that's also an interesting distinction, you know, and that's where lineage and traditional initiation facilitate that.
ANDREW: You know, because you may connect to that current, possibly, as you [00:50:53] say, there are examples, but I think there's a big difference between connecting to a spirit that engages your work and guides you and something sort of one step further beyond that into that lineage, that [00:51:08] deeper force, you know?
MAL: Right. And, and access to one aspect of a lineage also doesn't necessarily confer access to another aspect of lineage. So, for, you know, I have [00:51:23] apostolic succession via the episcopi vagantes, you know, right, the wandering bishops. And we may trace our lineage, you know, even up into, you know popes in Rome, but that doesn't make me [00:51:38] a Roman Catholic bishop. Right, that's the physical institution, and even though I might have access to both primordial or, you know, both practice and primordial lineage there, that grants me absolutely no standing whatsoever in the physical, you [00:51:54] know, lineage kind of thing, which is something I think a lot of people tend to forget, especially in the independent sacramental movement. They tend to not get that these things are [00:52:09] . . . They're disparate. They're separate. They're discrete things. Yes. Generally they're connected and hopefully, you know, if you get involved in one, it is, but yeah, if you stumble across it, if you just happen to meet up with some guy in [00:52:24] a, you know, hotel bar in Ontario and get, this sounds so bad now that I'm saying it out loud, get invited back up to his hotel room to get consecrated as a bishop one night . . . [laughing] Great. [00:52:39] You know, that doesn't mean, you know, you can show up at the Vatican and be like, you know, where's my room?
ANDREW: Like, yeah, that dude. He initiated 50 people that week. Come on!
MAL: [laughing] Right? [00:52:54] Yeah. So. It's, you know, lineage is, lineage is important. And, you know, I'm sure you could make the case that even though I'm breaking it down into three different things that you could say, well, they're really all the different aspects of the same thing, [00:53:09] and you could probably break it down even, you know, you could break it into four different aspects or two or whatever. But you know, in general, I think, for those three reasons at least, lineage is important, especially [00:53:24] in religious, spiritual, and, and esoteric bodies wherein the p