Enrique and Andrew catch up on what the birds are saying. They talk about the effect of living with an oracle versus reading and oracle. The conversation winds through ideas of how being in tune with the oracles impact their relationship with the rest of life. Finally they end by answering listeners questions.
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ANDREW: [00:00:00] Hello, my friends, welcome to The Hermit’s Lamp podcast. I wanted to let you know that the new intro music here was composed by my daughter, Claire. I hope you dig it. I certainly am loving on her creativity. Also, this is episode 91 with Enrique Enriquez. And if you have not caught our past conversations, you should go check them out: Episode 13, Poetry, Magic, and Ice Cream, and episode 63 [00:00:30], Definitions and Silence.Both available in the archives, either on the website or in your podcast catcher.
Speaker 2: [00:01:00] Let me start by saying thank you to all the Patreons who support this podcast in general, and specifically help the process of providing transcripts of every episode to the public so that anybody for any reason can access all this wonderful information. Those fine people are getting access to great bonus material and they make this happen. If you are listening to this podcast, think about how many episodes you’ve listened to, how much you’ve appreciated it [00:01:30], and please consider heading on over to Patreon.com/TheHermitsLamp, and pitching something in to continue supporting this work. It is truly a situation where every dollar helps.
Welcome back to The Hermit’s Lamp podcast. I’m here today with Enrique Enriquez, who is a card reader, poet, and artist, and you know was featured in a wonderful movie called Tarology,which [00:02:00] you can find on many places online right now. [Here’s the trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/A5UR3VesQGo] This is the third time that Enrique has been on the show, and if you haven’t checked out the other episodes, check the show notes for them. I’ll provide links, so people can go back and hear our previous conversations.
Enrique, for people who are meeting you for the first time, who are you? What are you about? What’s going on?
ENRIQUE: Well, you know, the other day I went to a bookstore that is across the street. And first of all, Andrew, it’s always [00:02:30] so good to hear you and always so good to talk to you.
ENRIQUE: But anyway, you know, I have this book store across the street and I went there. And there was this voice, they were doing something on the floor, I was talking to the guy. And then as I was about to leave, the woman on the floor stood up to say, “Wait!” and then I turn around and say, “What?” And say, “Are you the guy who talks like a bird?” And I say, “Yes, as a matter of fact [00:03:00], I am,” and she say, “Yes, a friend told me about you,” and I . . . That made me very happy, you know?
ENRIQUE: So, I guess, I am the man who speaks like a bird.
ENRIQUE: And at the moment, that seems to be plenty.
ANDREW: I think that’s wonderful. I mean, for me, listening to the birds and, and trying to speak with them is definitely one of my, one of my favorite things these days. You know, I’ve been spending, for [00:03:30] years now, really spending a lot of time trying to engage with them, and more and more over time I’ve found myself drawn deeper and deeper into . . . into the world of birds. So yeah, it’s wonderful.
ENRIQUE: Yes. Yeah, if you know, I suspect that birds are some sort of [Amic? Homic?] knowledge religion that is universal. I only know one person, a friend of mine, who says that birds are jerks and he hates birds. And [00:04:00] he say, “I know you like birds, but I hate birds,” and but also always …
ANDREW: (laughing) That’s a lot of strong feeling for birds!
ENRIQUE: Yes, exactly.
ANDREW: Why does he hate birds?
ENRIQUE: Yes, but usually, I don’t know, I mean, I guess, we said, you know, a bird is somehow that the embodiment of a long [garbled at 4:28] We [00:04:30] look at a bird, we think of birds, we listen to birds. You know, it’s just about survival. They go around trying to find something to eat. There is no, no Romanticism in this view of birds, which is fine. I mean, I think it’s a great exception, because usually as soon as you . . . You know, the other day, I was talking to . . . having a beer with these poets, a poet from Turkey and a poet from New Zealand and [00:05:00] they asked me, “What do you think about Trump?” And I told him what I believe, which is that Trump has no place in my reality. I don’t care. And then, as soon as I mentioned birds, they told me all kinds of fantastic stories about their own relationship with birds. And about 45 minutes into the conversation, I say, “See, that’s why I don’t think about Trump.”
ENRIQUE: I mean, there are better things to talk about, your, your mind. [00:05:30] Yes, so I think that that that’s how, birds account for that common longing we have, for some sort of transcendence that I don’t want to, I don’t want to put a name to it. But then when you actually make a bird sound, you realize that you are, you are enacting this form that is at once transparent and opaque, you know, because you’re not really saying anything, and even so, everybody understands you.
ENRIQUE: So I end up realizing [00:06:00] that I like to speak like a bird, and that basically means that since the beginning of this summer I started actually recording myself using all these bird calls, like these wooden artifacts or metal artifacts that imitate the sound of birds, and then sending my friends bird messages instead of text or voice messages, right? And by speaking like a bird, what I actually accomplish is, I avoid misunderstandings.
ENRIQUE: Everybody [00:06:31] seems to understand the form of a bird sound.
ANDREW: I like it. I feel like we must have talked about this on the podcast previously. You know, in the Orisha tradition, Osain, who is . . . He’s responsible for all the knowledge of all the plants and all the magic that comes from that. He’s sort of the wizard who lives in the forest, who’s been . . .
ANDREW: Broken down and, you know, scarred [00:07:01] by various conflicts and battles he’s had over the years, and Osain speaks like a bird. And you know, when we . . . when we do certain ceremonies and we sing, there are . . . There are these parts where we sing, where we’re singing not any words, but just to imitate the sound of the birds and to acknowledge the way in which Osain speaks to us, right?
ENRIQUE: Ah, that’s fantastic.
ANDREW: Yeah, so, you know … You’re in [00:07:31] good company.
ENRIQUE: Yes, of course, and, no, it’s amazing when you start looking into it, that the amount of effort and time that people have put into trying to imitate birds or talk like birds or understand birds, through history. And there is a, just as you say, there was a sort of pre-Koranic poetry that was all based on imitating the cooing of a mourning dove. And then you have the same in New Guinea. There is a tribe there that all their poetry is [00:08:01] based on the idea of imitating the cooing of a mourning dove, that wailing sound.
But, I mean, there are countless examples and, of course, thousands of poems about birds, but I guess I . . . Something clicked or shifted this summer. So, I started working with that because I understood that the moment I started sending these bird sounds to people, I went from somebody who could interpret signs [00:08:31] to somebody who was just delivering signs, so they became the interpreters, they were the ones telling me: “Yes. Thank you. I really needed this today.” Or, like happened the other day with this, this man. He sent me a recording of a bird that he hears out of the window and then I just mimicked it. I just imitated the same . . . I sent him back the same thing, but I made it and then he say, “Oh, I love yours because I can hear my own name in it.”
ENRIQUE: And [00:09:01] you know. And that, like a friend from Finland who say, you know, “Birds are only quiet when there are earthquakes or tsunamis or something horrible is about to happen.”
ENRIQUE: “So whenever I hear your bird voice, I just feel that everything is okay.” And to me that’s . . . I mean in a sense, yeah, something shifted, because I think that, in a sense, turning the other person into the auger, into the interpreter, it [00:09:31] has something to do with the idea of an oracle as something that should poetize life instead of giving answers.
ANDREW: Well, and I think that, you know, let’s be honest about, you know . . . I mean, I won’t even bring my clients into this, about myself. There are times where I go to the oracle, hoping that the oracle will tell me that everything’s going to be okay. And, you know, the prospect of thinking that well, as long as . . . as long as I can hear the birdsong, [00:10:01] or as long as I can go into my, my messenger and find a note of you playing, and play that song, the answer is the birds are singing, there’s no tsunami. There’s no earthquake.
ANDREW: There’s no predator here, right? You’re good. Take it easy. (laughs)
ENRIQUE: Exactly. That’s exactly one of the ways of seeing it, yes.
ENRIQUE: And, so, yeah, it has been a really, you know, at some point I started to suspect or to . . . Or maybe I decided [00:10:31] to start acting as if all these enterprises of divination, as if we already got it backwards. . .
ENRIQUE: You know, and usually we have this idea of this image of the person, the reader, the diviner, who’s sitting waiting for the client or the, you know, consultant to come. And then I decided, no, it should be the other way around, right? Because in . . . I was reading The Iliad,you know, and there is this moment, which is a rather irrelevant moment, [00:11:01] when it is said that when a person arrives to the city, he fills everybody with excitement because of course, there is still the potential of what this person may be bringing, you know, news, things, a weird fruit, something, right?
ENRIQUE: And then I thought about that in relationship with angels, and the idea of the angel. And of course, angel is a word that comes from a Greek word for messenger, [00:11:31] right? So, the idea of the messenger. The messenger brings news, like the birds that come and, as you say, everything is okay. The birds are singing.
ENRIQUE: Or look over there, because the bird, you know, flew that way. So, I decided, I think it’s better to become the angel, or to imitate, you know, dreams and angels, which are the only oracles that actually visit people.
ENRIQUE: And obliterate the reading on the table and just be . . . appear on people’s lives and [00:12:01] then disappear, which is something you can now do, thanks to all these little gadgets we have, and social media, and all that, so you can really become, or have, a virtual presence. So that’s where I am at now.
ANDREW: You’ve become the psychopomp, right?
ENRIQUE: Yeah, somehow, yeah in a sense. It’s this idea of . . . I mean, I . . . You know, I am a witness, and I look at things, you [00:12:31] know, and, at some point, I guess I . . . what I understand is that I, in terms of giving answers to people, solving people’s problems, giving them solutions, healing, all that stuff. I don’t do that. I don’t know how to do that.
ENRIQUE: But I know how to pay attention. I know how to be a witness. So, at some point it may be that I find a place and form. Right? I look at something that is worth [garbled] or worth sharing and then [00:13:01] maybe that sound, that word, that form could be the answer to somebody’s question or the solution to somebody’s problem. It could even bring some sort of healing to them, but it’s not me. It’s not me doing it.
ENRIQUE: It’s . . . They are the ones interpreting the sign.
ANDREW: Well, and I think that . . . You know, I think that one of the things that’s really interesting and that, you know, I certainly appreciate about you and about all of our dialogues because, [00:13:31] you know, I think that the delivering of more concrete messages is also great and it’s a thing that I certainly enjoy.
But I’m also really interested in this space where, where we, revoke the expectation of meaning in a concrete way. You know? And like, I made this deck earlier in the year, which I shared with you when I was in New York, you know, the Land of the Sacred Self Oracle.
ANDREW: And you know, I created . . . [00:14:02] I initially wanted to say nothing about it. And like, I was like, I just want to make it and put it out there. But everybody, almost everybody that I talked to was like, “I don’t know what I’m . . . I don’t know what to do with this. So, I need you to tell me stuff.” And I was like, “All right.” So, I created this course for it and . . . which is, which is now, it’s just basically a PDF. And the first lesson is, these images are nothing but ink on paper, [00:14:32] they don’t mean anything. They have no concrete meaning in and of themselves. What do you actually see? You know? Because I think that leading people back to themselves is so profound and so powerful.
ANDREW: And so, against the nature of our culture, right? The nature of . . .
ANDREW: . . . the Modern Age, right?
ENRIQUE: Well, but that . . . What is interesting about that is that, that is exactly what contemporary art brought about.
ANDREW: Right. [00:15:02]
ENRIQUE: You know? All . . . today, beginning of the 20th century, art basically showcased a common narrative and that could be . . . You know, you go to Italy to see all these paintings of the Virgin Mary or Christ, or the, the, you know, the Book of Genesis or whatever. You have this idea of okay, we all understand what we are seeing because we share these references.
ENRIQUE: And then came, you know, Malevich or Kandinsky [00:15:32] or even Donald Judd or all these people and say, “No, now you have the possibility to understand that thing before you on your own terms.”
ENRIQUE: And that’s exactly what you’re saying. Forget about what that is for the other person standing next to you. What is that to you? And of course, we still abhor that, I mean, most people put a lot of resistance to that, because they want to be told what it is. One is . . . like the other day, I had this, you know, I had [00:16:02] been reading the cards this woman finds out on the sidewalk. I have talked to you about this. For more than 10 years. And I stopped the other day because she, she sent me a card, and I told her about Nikolai Gogol, the Russian writer, and I . . . There is this wonderful little book a friend gave me about the dreams of Joseph Cornell.
ENRIQUE: So, this woman pulled out all the dreams of Joseph Cornell [00:16:32] from his diary. And the amazing thing is that when you read his dreams you realize that they are not extraordinary in any way, right?
ENRIQUE: Which is beautiful, because you realize the dreams are these material things available to all of us and a plumber can have dreams that are as extraordinary as the dreams of a fantastic artist as Joseph Cornell. But what was really interesting is at the end . . . She also wrote about all these people that Cornell was influenced by. [00:17:02] Not in terms of his work, but in terms of his relationship to dreams. And that I found fascinating. He had like the lineage of others like Blaise Pascal or you know, Freud. And then he spoke, or he took notice of Nikolai Gogol, and there was this rich lady who wrote to Gogol, saying, “Can you please interpret this dream for me?” Right?
ENRIQUE: And Gogol wrote back and say, “Only your soul can tell you what the dream means.”
ENRIQUE: “Don’t [00:17:32] ask any wise man, because they won’t tell you. They are not able to. They won’t be able to say what it means. You have to find a quiet space. You have to. Within yourself you will find the meaning of the dream.” So, I said that to this woman, right, who had sent me a little card she found somewhere. And she got enraged. She told me, “No, you have the obligation of telling me what it means.” Because of course, we don’t want to be within ourself. That’s a . . . [00:18:02] It’s a . . . it’s a very tall order.
ENRIQUE: And, in theory, we don’t have time, right? We are always under this imaginary constraint of time. And she said that “You have the obligation of telling me.” Of course, I dropped communication immediately because I feel I have no obligation. I have two kids, that’s obligations enough.
ENRIQUE: Other than that, you know. But in a sense, I understand, there is a . . . what you’re saying, in terms [00:18:32] of your own deck. I mean, people have an extraordinary resistance of coming to terms with their own experience, because actually, most people are looking for mythology, not for experience.
ENRIQUE: You know. They want a little story. They don’t want an experience.
ANDREW: Well, and exactly. You know, and I . . . a friend of mine who I was sharing the art with as I was making it, you know, they would have this reaction where they would be obviously fascinated by it, and then . . . But they’d be like, [00:19:02] “But I don’t know what it means.” And I’m like, “Well, just look at it. Do you have a feeling?” And they’re like, “Yeah. I really have a feeling when I look at this.” I’m like, “Great, then it’s perfect. Go with that feeling!” You know? And even if their reactions were not, not articulatable, right? They would . . . I might have, you know, had I known then, I might have been like, “Just sing me a bird song about it. And we’ll see what it says,” you know?
ENRIQUE: Yeah. Well because if something [00:19:32] is really hitting home, the only possible responses are either laughter or silence.
ENRIQUE: You know, that’s the moment when we are completely impacted by something. We laugh, which is almost like a defense mechanism or we are quiet, because of this, we are taking it deep, you know.
ENRIQUE: So, and of course, we still think that we have to feel special and important when we are having an experience.
ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah. Because people aren’t comfortable sitting in [00:20:02] that. So, I was at this conference and, as the culmination of the workshop that we were doing, we were to sit and gaze into the other person’s eyes, and sort of allow all that had been exchanged between us to sort of settle in. And the person that I was sitting with was uncomfortable with this and started to laugh every time we looked and tried to look away a bit or whatever. And so, I just sort of sat there and said to myself, “Well, I [00:20:32] can laugh with them, we can laugh together.”
And so, so I started to laugh and as soon as I started to laugh, they continued, but were able to sort of sit with me with it. And so, we sat there, you know, in the midst of several hundred people. Everyone else dead silent and gazing solemnly into everybody else’s eyes and having their own experience. And the two of us laughing so hard the tears were rolling down our face, because it just kept escalating, the longer we did it, the funnier [00:21:02] it got, right? And you know, I mean . . .
ENRIQUE: That’s brilliant.
ANDREW: One of the . . . one of the more magical experiences of it, you know, and I don’t remember what the rest of the reading was. I have no idea what we said to each other. I mean, I might . . . I think I made some notes, I could go and look, but for me, the real significance was that we both changed something in that moment through our engagement and our laughter, right?
ENRIQUE: Yes, and that’s actually . . . That was an actual communication, you know, where you had your communication, [00:21:32] communicating through laughter, which is in a way communicating through form.
ENRIQUE: And not through words. I mean words are wonderful. And I love words, but words are also overrated. You know, there is a whole field of experience that exists outside of words.
ANDREW: Sure. Yeah.
ENRIQUE: And, and when you really have a profound experience, you are usually in the space outside of language, then comes the problem of sharing it, right? And then you have to find the right words, which is a whole other thing. But with the actual experience is not in the space mediated by language. [00:22:03]
ENRIQUE: No matter what the French say.
ANDREW: Yeah. I completely agree with you. I think that that that sort of moment where you’re just engaged with something beyond words is . . . is really where, where things are wonderful. Right?
ENRIQUE: Yes. Absolutely.
ANDREW: I mean, it’s, it’s an experience that I’m always seeking out, you know, in one way or another right? In my relationships. In my relationship with nature, through the art that I make, even, even through my hobbies, like going rock climbing. One of the things I like about rock climbing is [00:22:33] that, you know, when you’re 25 feet off the ground, and you know, working on a climbing problem, there’s no . . . There’s nothing but the sort of sense of trying to figure out how to move in space in relationship with the wall and it’s not . . . it’s not words.
ANDREW: It’s not anything. It’s just . . . it’s just a feeling and it’s the feeling of being in that relationship with the wall itself and the puzzle, you know?
ENRIQUE: Yeah, I mean that’s, that’s actually a beautiful example because the wall is there, [00:23:03] speaking in stone.
ENRIQUE: And then . . . and your body has to reply in your negative space for the stone.
ENRIQUE: Otherwise, you basically fall and die.
ENRIQUE: So, you have to become endowed with that form and that’s a . . . yeah, that’s an excellent example.
ANDREW: Yeah, and it’s definitely one of those things where you know, you can make your mind up. You know, I mean, especially, you know, like I’m not the world’s best climber by any means, but you know, I climb [00:23:33] sort of relatively challenging, for most people, kind of things. You can decide all sorts of things before you start the climb, but once you put your hand or your foot or you know, whatever on the, on the hold then it tells you, if you’re listening, what it wants you to do or needs you to do.
ANDREW: And everything that you thought ahead of time kind of can go completely out the window where you’re like, “Oh. I thought I’d be able to hold it from that angle. But in fact, I have to hold it from the other side now,” or “I have to do this [00:24:03] or that,” or “Oh, wow. That space is so much broader than I thought it was. I don’t know how to, how to cross that gap now.” And then you . . . then you have to sort of feel it and feel the motion and it really becomes a process of . . . Most of the problem-solving comes not so much from even thinking about it, but from being there and saying, “Okay, where do I feel the most settled in this position? And where do I feel like I can move from?”
ANDREW: And then you’re like, “Okay, now, now, now I [00:24:33] can see my way forward.”
ENRIQUE: Yeah, any embodied knowledge that you have, that we all have, and of course you acquire with experience the more you speak or you are in dialogue with the rock and the mountain, but at the same time, somehow, that’s also dream. That’s some sort of thing which, just letting the symbolic world, meaning the world of forms, guide you upwards.
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. For sure. Well, [00:25:03] I mean, I feel like this this brings us into something that you and I have been, you know, discussing, you know, kind of . . . I mean over the last, last year or so, over the last six months, you know, this question of what does it mean to live with the oracle versus to sort of learn and work the oracle. I’m not sure if I’m articulating it quite right in those words, but it’s a good starting point, right?
ENRIQUE: Yes, and I think [00:25:33–a little garbled here] that that’s extraordinary. It’s really an important question, I think. Then . . . I mean, for example, there are ways to tackle it, but this year, I finally managed to stop doing tarot readings for . . . which means that I finally managed to say no, which is really hard because usually what you want to say, “Yes,” but I decided that it had no, I mean, I decided that there is a . . . You [00:26:04] know, honesty is prophecy. And then, when you actually give an honest look at anything, you know the future. And it’s only when we fool ourselves, you know, we say, “Yeah, let me invite my alcoholic friend to the party. I’m sure this time he’s going to be okay.”
ENRIQUE: That’s when we, you know, get derailed and then we get surprised by something that in theory, we say [00:26:34] is unexpected, but it isn’t, you know, we are just fooling ourselves. But so, I decided okay, if you really remove things from the table, the only thing you can do is be present, you know, and pay attention.
ENRIQUE: But of course, I can only accept that because whatever effect extended exposure to the tarot had on me, [00:27:04] allows me now to see that way, you know, and for . . . I see it.
At some point you realize that the reason why we place two cards and put a space in between them, right, and at some point, then, we realize that we think of that in terms of space only because we are very slow, but it’s not really space, it’s time. And then we [00:27:34] realize, oh, that time is equivalent to the time that exceeds between the two, [garbled, some words may be lost] somehow you realize, you discover, and you inhabit the space in between. You live, we live in the world all the time, cards or no cards, right? And I think that the, the, I mean the ultimate effect, I guess, is to be able to have a beautiful life and I think [00:28:04] that has to do a lot with being able to be present and to contemplate what is around and then you let . . .
I find myself in a very strange position, because I now work with all these people who are interested in language of the birds. So, we work with, you know, words, fundamentally, we break words apart and we turn them into little clouds, and we are actually looking for the void [00:28:34] within the words, right? And the letters become pegs that are holding the void in place. So, we go beyond meaning into form and then I will feel that it’s almost like, sometimes, it’s almost like seeing an angel. Like seeing a, you know, you see this beautiful thing that you know you found it when you see it, but you can’t even define it, right?
And it has been one thing to do that for years and years on my own and another very [00:29:04] different one to . . . to share that work with other people and then to see the effect that work has on them. Right? And one of the beautiful things, of course, is that people feel very grounded, very centered, when they do this work, but then you have it. So, these are the people that . . .
ANDREW: I’m sorry. Let’s pause for a second, Enrique, until my phone stops ringing.
ENRIQUE: And we can see that could be . . . Absolutely.
ANDREW: All right. [00:29:34] Apparently, I can’t make the phone stop either. (laughing) Oh, boy.
ENRIQUE: Yes. You don’t have superpowers.
ANDREW: I don’t have superpowers. Yeah, okay.
ENRIQUE: So yeah, so, in any case, when you start sharing the work with other people, and they start doing that work, and you realize, oh, now people are talking about how their dreams change, right? And they have all these different beautiful [00:30:04] dreams that somehow follow the forms they are putting on the paper, right? Or, or people who feel grounded. And then you realize well, this is what living with the oracle is. It finds expression in anything you arrange . . .
ENRIQUE: Around you. And, you know, Gaston Bachelard, the French writer, talks about poetic [00:30:34] reverie, right? And he says, literally that, he says, we can’t actually . . . We have to discount dreams because we don’t have control over them. But then, if you submerge yourself in a constant state of poetic reverie, you change your own dreams.
ENRIQUE: Because you are learning to be beautifully in the world, to think beautifully, right? And in a form . . . in a way form begets form. So, if you learn to move in a certain way, then that can [00:31:04] raise an echo, right? And all that . . . I know that all this may sound very abstract and probably useless, but it all accounts for basically being in the world in a beautiful way and living a beautiful life. Eventually, you can share those things with other people. And . . .
For example, the other day I was talking to this very young woman. Her name was Natasha. And I showed her how her name . . . You know that if you separate the variables, which are the soul of a word [00:31:34] from the body, which is the consonants. She basically . . . the three As on Natasha form a triangle, right? With them . . . like an inverted triangle.
ENRIQUE: And then the consonants form a square. So, when I show her that as forms, we saw how her soul, the triangle, was a little bit off-center to the square, the body, and she was really concerned about appearing or being too [00:32:04] predictable. So that gave her great comfort. Because of course, having an off-center soul is not being predictable. And, in a sense, I had to explain that. I just saw something. I say, “Oh, well, this makes me feel better.” And I don’t know what that is. And again, I never know what that can do for anybody. But I also think that there is some comfort for me [00:32:34] in thinking that something so abstract cannot be named, right? Because if you cannot really name it, then you probably cannot trivialize it.
ANDREW: Hmm. I think it’s . . . I think it’s . . . You know, my . . . So many things. All my thoughts are colliding now! (laughing) And it’s like, how do I put all this into words that make any sense to anybody else? Right? It’s just . . .
ANDREW: So, [00:33:04] we talked about how . . . you know, being . . . we need to, we need to sort of see things as they are, right? And that when we’re surprised by circumstance in readings, possibly, probably, we’ve been fooling ourselves on some level, you know? Because I think that, I think that that’s certainly my experience, right? There are . . . there are surprises, life is surprising at times, but most of the things that people ask [00:33:34] questions about aren’t really surprising and people generally have a notion about what’s going on. They just don’t like it, don’t want to say it, don’t want to face it, or whatever.
You know, and for me, you know this sort of Stoic idea of it’s always better to know what’s real then to sort of live in any other kind of version of reality, you know, or to cover it up. I think that that’s something that I sort [00:34:04] of really have valued over a long time. And I think that the kind of Stoic notions, if you can kind of work with them outside of the macho bullshit, that’s so much stuff that gets layered on them today, I think that they really can be helpful. And then I think that once we know what’s real or what’s, you know, closest to what’s real, for whatever we want to say about that. That’s a whole other episode, but . . .
ANDREW: Then we can start to understand [00:34:34] and engage with this other world that doesn’t need to have concreteness attached to it per se, right? And I think about my walk in the woods talking to the birds. I think about . . .
People always ask me, you know, like, “Well, do you do daily readings? What do you . . . How do you read the cards for yourself?” And you know, these days, a lot of what I do is, I just sit with the cards. And I put out some Marseilles cards and then I put out my, you [00:35:04] know, my Sacred Self Oracle, and I look for, look for the patterns that emerge between those. And especially because I’m often taking notes on my iPad, I’ll take a picture of that card, and then I’ll draw on top of it. And I’ve moved outside of the notion of reading in any sense that anybody means by that. And . . .
ANDREW: And it is so grounding, and so centering, and sometimes there’s a message that emerges, [00:35:34] sometimes it filters back down into language or words or whatever. And often the words that come out don’t even really matter. They don’t even necessarily make sense in any sort of overt way, but the flow of them, the practice of making them or arranging them, the practice of thinking them, is the message and is the oracle.
ANDREW: And the consequence of that oracle is not tangible and direct in an overt way, but [00:36:04] it somehow modifies myself and my relationship to the world, my day, whatever it is that’s going on, in ways that allow me to move forward in a different manner.
ENRIQUE: Yes. That’s the dialogue in the day. The hand and the wall rock, you know, when your hand gets caught, to match the rock wall, your climb, it’s the same thing. It’s form speaking to form. And that in itself is [00:36:34] the message. And of course, that doesn’t have an intellectual effect, because you can’t just even talk about it. It has an emotional effect . . .
ENRIQUE: Which is something that a lot of people miss. When you are in contact with an oracle, you’re basically exposing yourself to, to have, to that, for that thing to have an emotional impact on you. And, and maybe, there is something also, that may be very silly, you know, but oracle is a word that basically accounts [00:37:05] originally, at least, for an opaque or oblique utterance, right? A phrase, a bunch of words that don’t have a clearer meaning.
ENRIQUE: So, it requires thought and, and in the way I see it, there is an experience that let’s say, is a little common still. A person, any person, opens a poetry book, finds a line in the poem, and thinks, “Ah, this [00:37:35] speaks to my condition right now.” Right?
ENRIQUE: And we know that that poet didn’t write that for her, or not even about, it’s not even about that, that the person is experiencing. But the person can see how that speaks to her. You know, “Yes, this accounts for this experience I’m having.”
ENRIQUE: And that’s an experience that most people feel or know, understand, and even our culture at large values [00:38:05] it, that. We respond to it, we pride ourselves on being a culture that generates that kind of experience. So, we can take that one step further, and say, well this is a . . . Fal’e Hafiz, you know, the divination with a poet by Hafiz, the Iranian poet, which is basically the same thing, only that it’s not any book of poetry, but only a book of poetry by Hafiz. You think about a problem you have, you open it up, the [00:38:35] first line you read, that’s the answer . . .
ENRIQUE: To your problem. And the thing is, that Hafiz was a very very obscure poet. So, it’s never like, “come back on Tuesday,” or, you know, play the 36.”
ENRIQUE: So, it’s a really really contrived sentence. So, you have to meditate upon it. It is the same as meditating upon form. And then eventually say “Yes, I understand how this is speaking to my condition.” [00:39:06]
And we can take that one step further and say the I Ching, right? Which is still a book and still full of lines, literally and metaphorically. But then, now, we don’t say, “Okay, open it in any page and the first thing you see, that will be it.” We say, “No, we’re actually engaging with chance.” So, we take all these sticks or the coins and we start going through a process that renders this idea of the odd and the even. [00:39:36] So we, you know, we get to the hexagrams. And then from the hexagrams to some sort of commentary on the hexagrams. So, we are again left with some sort of obscure phrase that in theory is responding to our situation, right?
ENRIQUE: And then the next step, of course, is get rid of the book.
ENRIQUE: And keep the sticks. And right there, we have all the divination [00:40:06] systems we know, right? We have the shells with the bones, throw the cards, or the coffee stains or grinds or the clouds. And the funny thing is in our culture, the moment we get rid of the book, we step into what people define as superstition, right?
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
ENRIQUE: It’s no longer this poetica pursuit, basically, because we have this very old-fashioned idea of poetry as something that is anchored on the word, words, and [00:40:36] not on form. But of course, every time you look at an oracle you’re reading, and that reading is a poetic reading. It’s as opaque and obscure as the poetry by Hafiz or the I Ching commentary or the poem that you read and . . .
ANDREW: Well in the . . .
ENRIQUE: You know, I was talking about this with . . . yeah, yes, go ahead.
ANDREW: In a sense, you know, when we . . . You know, not in a literal sense, because from within the tradition, we have a different dialogue [00:41:06] about it, but from the point of view of our conversation, when we are divining with the cowrie shells and we say that the, the Odu has arrived, right? Like the living energy of the Orisha that is the sign that came out in this divination. And the belief is that the arrival of that Odu changes the person’s life. It is . . . it is just that process of invoking that energy through [00:41:36] the shells, and looking at it and seeing it and it being there, and then afterwards the diviner’s job is more so to manage that dialogue and make sure that the person understands enough of what has been said so they can go away and think about it, right? I mean and there are other sort of literal pieces too but, but that idea of the energy of the oracle arriving, and us receiving it, and that being the thing that changes our life . . . You know, it comes with the notion that we don’t understand [00:42:06] what that is, exactly. We can’t articulate it clearly.
And even, even when we’re interpreting the Odu in a traditional way, we can’t necessarily, on any level, understand all of the implications and so on of that. We are merely just making sure that we’ve, you know, read the appropriate lines that are relevant to it and marked the right things. And after that, it’s up to the person to sit with it and allow that to unfold with them and through them and so on, in a way that [00:42:36] is certainly energetic and otherwise, but also definitely poetic, and goes back to that sort of obtuseness of Hafiz, or other things, the I Ching, where it’s like, “Huh? What does this really mean? How does this apply? How does this apply today? How does this apply while I’m at the butcher’s? How does this apply when I pick my kids up from school? You know? It’s that living with it that is the . . . that is where we get the most out of it and where it is the most transformational. You know?
ENRIQUE: Yes. Yeah, and [00:43:06] I mean, I was talking about this with my wife the other day, and she say that the problem, really, the moment you get rid of the book or the moment that you step into the oracle is the other person, the interpreter, you know? There is this, the moment you need the other person to tell you how to relate to the oracle. And I thought that was really interesting because again, it’s brought me back to the woman who say, “You are in the obligation of telling me because I’m not going to do any thinking.”
ENRIQUE: And [00:43:36] of course, I mean, again, it is really interesting to, for me at the moment to think again that by delivering an open object, turn the other person into the interpreter. They have to come to terms with forms and understand what those forms are saying to them.
ENRIQUE: Because at least I don’t know. I don’t know what, who they are. I don’t know what they are, you know, feeling, and I must certainly have no, [00:44:06] nothing to say about anybody’s life, but they know. I think they always know. And you say, also a few minutes ago, they have an idea of what’s going on. And basically, they may not like it. So, they’re trying to find almost like a second opinion. That’s why . . . I mean the other day, somebody was asking me about the ethics of readings and divination and I told her, well, there is an ethical problem, because in my experience [00:44:36] most clients are dishonest. They want to hear what they want to hear.
ENRIQUE: And they will twist your words. They will, you know, re-ask the question again and again until they get what they want, and even if you don’t give it to them, they will hear every word you say as if you say what they want to hear. So, of course, there is a lot of dishonesty in the profession, but it mostly come from the clients. Of course, [00:45:06] there are dishonest readers. But even the honest reader has to put up with that person who has decided beforehand what they want to hear.
ENRIQUE: And I see that as way more . . . I mean, and again, it’s really . . . Do you know, I think that there is a love for the majority for example of the cards or any oracle, at some point you want to really share that beauty with other people. And that takes you so far. It [00:45:37] comes to a point at which you understand: “Yes, but I’m speaking of a beauty and this woman’s still speaking about this [garbled] on Thanksgiving. You know?
ENRIQUE: I really don’t care. It’s not really my problem.
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think, yeah. I think too, like, somebody . . . Somebody was asking me if . . . Somebody was . . . I was posting about my . . . So, my journey for, with [00:46:07] rock climbing. You know, I was, I set myself a goal for the year. This is the only resolution I made for 2018. And my resolution for 2018 was to still be climbing at the end of the year. That was my, my entire goal. No achievement attached to it. No, you know, anything else, just still be going and doing it. Just keep returning if you go away, and be, and still be there at the end of the year. Because [00:46:37] I think that, you know, like the oracle, you know, if we, if we promise to keep showing up, you know, the oracle reveals things to us over time.
ANDREW: We don’t know when or how that comes, and so if we endeavor to be with it, then, then we will hear what we need to hear as we go, to a large extent. And somebody, somebody was posting . . . somebody posted in response to that, that if they, they wondered if the universe challenged us whenever we set an intention, you [00:47:07] know, if it deliberately brought stuff up, you know. And I think that for me, and I’ll let you answer for yourself. But for me, living with the oracle in this open-ended way and living, in a, for lack of a better term, kind of more Stoic way with a real sort of working to, to see things as clearly as possible all the time and face the things that I might rather put in the closet or leave [00:47:37] for another day.
I don’t . . . I don’t feel like the universe has a lot of agency in the way that that question implies, you know? There are surprises that are . . . that happen, you know? You know, in relationship to me climbing this year, there were two surprises: One, I dislocated my collarbone in the winter, tobogganing with my daughter. And that took like [00:48:07] four months to really fix. It’s horrible. I don’t recommend it to anybody. And two, you know, I’m getting divorced this year and, you know, although that is amicable and, and going well, relatively speaking, it takes a lot of time and attention and doesn’t always leave energy for other things. But I don’t think that any of those have any relationship to . . . to my intention or my desire to climb or do other things. I think that those are, those [00:48:37] are just the inevitable stories of being alive, right? We are alive, and things happen and we get sick and . . .
ANDREW: Life comes up and things change and so on and we don’t need to, or I never need to, arrange a narrative around that in a bigger way. So, I’m curious. I’m curious for you. Do you . . . What agency do you feel comes back from the universe? Do you think that there is something organizing it or testing us or . . .
ENRIQUE: No, I actually, no, I always say the same thing. I think that [00:49:07] the universe doesn’t care about us. Or maybe I will say it doesn’t care about me. And I know that people want to be, to feel otherwise, you know, but you know when I was a kid . . . and this image has been coming back a lot recently. I watched this documentary about Africa, right? And there was this method of catching monkeys, which consisted of filling up a hollow tree with grain.
ANDREW: Uh huh.
ENRIQUE: And then, you know, the monkey will stick his hand into the hollow [00:49:37] tree, grab the grain, but then couldn’t take the handful, the fistful out. The hole was only big enough for the empty hand to come in. But if he had grain in his hand, in his hand, he couldn’t take it out.
ENRIQUE: And basically, these guys just will walk up to the monkey and grab it because the monkey will never let go of the grain.
ENRIQUE: And I mean, it’s insane, right? But I think that in terms of daily life, we are all monkeys with our hand [00:50:07] stuck in a hollow tree.
ENRIQUE: And most of the time, you realize, yeah, but can you just open the hand and let go?
ENRIQUE: Life works the way it works. And in that sense, there is no mystery, even if it takes you by surprise all the time, basically because we think that there is a mystery there. And yes, sometimes we catch a cold and sometimes we get divorced and sometimes we, you know, we’re surprised by somebody giving us a loaf of bread.
ENRIQUE: I . . . I [00:50:38] don’t think that actually, at least I understand that that’s not the way people think, but I never thought of any kind of oracular work where oracles had any dealings with daily life in that sense, of letting me know if I should change the oil of my car today or next week, you know?
ENRIQUE: I think it’s more about transcending daily life and finding some sort of center, true beauty [00:51:08] through some sort of . . .
ENRIQUE: Through some sort of sublime condition in life.
ANDREW: For sure.
ENRIQUE: Yeah, but all day, even the other day I was talking about, you know, people, people talk about sigils, and then I realized, first, the first mistake you make when you make a sigil is wanting something?
ENRIQUE: And then you realize when you make a sigil to, I don’t know, lose weight. Let’s [00:51:38] say. And another sigil to get a red car. You’re basically making the same operation, right? You make, you take the words, you eliminate certain letters, and you consolidate everything into one small or smaller emblem.
ENRIQUE: And then you realize, oh, but what you’re doing there, it doesn’t matter what you want. What you’re doing again and again and again is a reduction. That’s what then . . . In the world of forms, [00:52:08] what you are actually spelling is a reduction. Which means that in time, it doesn’t matter how many things you wanted, you end up with your mind drinking.
ENRIQUE: And of course, people don’t like that, because, besides you can’t sell a book saying this stuff, right? You can’t sell any books and don’t want stuff. They only want books that say, I’m sorry, I want to say you’re entitled [00:52:38] to want everything, and I can tell you how to get it.
ENRIQUE: But you realize there is something really silly about trying to control daily life, especially because daily life is not even that interesting, you know, and it takes care of itself.
ANDREW: Mm. Yeah. I think that . . . I mean it’s kind of why, over the years, I’ve sort of moved to . . . My [00:53:08] magic that I do tends to tends to be most often orientated towards what I, what I kind of now often call as identity magic, which is how do I, how do I change myself so that I can be more like more like what seems fruitful, more like what, you know, remove those obstacles in myself to doing the things that I need, you know, it’s not so much about changing the world as it is about [00:53:38] shifting myself in relationship to it so that . . . If there’s desire attached to it, so that what I desire is more accessible, or so that I’m more, more at ease and more in the flow around whatever it is that I need to work on and change, you know?
ENRIQUE: Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s a song. At some point, I understood or I [00:54:08] have been made to understand that presence is meaning . . .
ENRIQUE: And presence is also performance.
ENRIQUE: Whatever you are, you’re performing, you’re enacting, you are projecting something, and causing an effect. And I’m at the moment more interested in just being, you know, and be present and play along with the fact that causes.
ENRIQUE: It’s like when this woman started laughing, looking at [00:54:38] your eyes, and you laughed with her, you know, you said that’s a reaction in the moment and that’s what there, you know?
ENRIQUE: And trying to make her chop or, I don’t know, levitate, will be useless. So, yeah, it’s . . . I’m finding a lot of pleasure in walking around by with my pockets empty. And of course, I don’t know what magic is. I think that, in other words, I think that magic or [00:55:08] some experience of mystery that I actually pursue or often feel works best when you don’t want anything, when you don’t want it, and it appears and surprises you, gives you something. It’s like a gift, you know, but it’s not something you pursue in terms of how can I command for this to happen at will.
ENRIQUE: And again, I understand that when you say that magic . . . When . . . the moment I speak [00:55:38] of magic without will, I’m almost like undefining magic in terms of what people think magic is, right? They all seem to be convinced it’s about will, exerting our will, and I think it’s more about stepping aside, letting things happen.
ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Well, I think it’s definitely about . . . for me, it’s definitely about making space so that [00:56:08] I can be engaged and present with the subject of the magic in a way that it allows it to unfold, to some extent without control, to a large extent without control, because I think that the idea of, you know, “Oh, I really want this person to fall in love with me.” I mean, I think the minute that you’re fixated on, on one person is the minute that you’ve already kind of drifted into a problematic territory and should go back to . . .
ANDREW: Why that person? [00:56:38] Why do you want them when they are not reciprocating? What is it you’re looking for? What is it you could do without magic to make this . . . ? You know, I mean, many questions, right? But, but rather, what could I . . . What could I do to have more, more romance in my life? What could I do to have better connections? And is there a magical act that, that feeds and supports that in an open-ended and sort of allowing the universe to show us, allowing ourselves to witness and notice it in an open, open [00:57:08] and present way as the opportunities float around us, rather than sort of exerting a massive amount of control, which I think is, which is very rarely fruitful, you know.
ENRIQUE: Yes. Well, you know, my . . . This year, one of my favorite moments is . . . I have this friend, who about 12 years ago, he was named the godfather of a child, right? And he decided beautifully that his gift to this kid will be the gift of language.
ENRIQUE: So, he set up an account, a bank account and he has [00:57:38] been putting money there for years, assuming that at some point, maybe this kid will want to learn, you know, Italian so he can go to Rome and live there and learn the language. But then this summer, he spent a morning with me by the river and we were playing with all these bird voices, you know, and talking like birds and the birds will come and all this and that. So, and he went, he bought a box full of birdcallers and sent it to this kid.
Yeah, so there is something extraordinarily beautiful in [00:58:08] inspiring a person to complete this crazy act of gifting a kid a set of birdcallers, and then he wrote this note, saying, “I believe this is a good first language for you to learn. And, and then for that gesture not to fall flat, you know, and for the kid to actually embrace this, and then this is a kid I don’t know, I probably will never see in my life, but somehow, it’s beautiful to think that there [00:58:38] is some residual effect of what I do that is part of that kid’s life, and I don’t know. I’m . . .
The other day, for example, this woman wrote to me and she said that she wanted to speak like a hawk. And it’s beautiful. We saw this at [Brawn’s?] we saw that actually allows her to do so. And she say, “Well, I have a problem, and the problem I have is that I’m surrounded by [00:59:08] sparrows.” So, I told her, “Well, you know, the problem is that the only way you have for you to know if you are actually doing it right is that all those sparrows are going to fly away, because you’ve become a predator, right?
ENRIQUE: And she say, “Oh, but, I mean, I love the sparrows. Do you think they were going to trust me?” I said, “Yes. I mean, they are going to trust you as much as a sparrow trusts a hawk.” Okay. So yeah, it’s fantastic to think you can . . . A, this faith [00:59:38] when a person can ask you that question, can talk about this [garbled] bird’s nest to still be close to the birds. And at the same time, like a little bit . . . We are really not just talking about talking like a hawk, or talking about voice, we are talking about the consequences of having a certain voice and being responsible for what we say, what we put out in the world. And I . . . being full of all of the [garbled] but I can [01:00:08] see the poetry or of living a poetic life through embracing the form of a bird voice and the bird language. So yeah.
ANDREW: That’s wonderful. Well, maybe we should wrap up the us talking part of the conversation here, and there were definitely some questions that came through, through Facebook. And I think at this point, I’d love to, I’d love to hear you give like a one word [01:00:38] or a one phrase answer to them, rather than us sort of go into a big long conversation or . . . kind of like we did in one of them where . . .
ANDREW: I did the rapid-fire questions at you. Let’s look at these rapid fire . . .
ANDREW: And see what comes, okay? So, one person asks . . .
ANDREW: So, with your children, are they interested, would you teach them these things about card reading? What are your thoughts on children and cards? [01:01:08]
ENRIQUE: Well, I have three kids. The middle kid already asked me to teach him and I did so. And then yesterday, my daughter told me that, and she’s 10. One of his friends, his classmates, actually asked: Did your father ever taught you, told you how to read tarot and [garbled] in the French way, in such a beautiful way, that I think she already knows everything she needs to know.
ANDREW: Yeah, my [01:01:38] youngest got a Sibilla deck and reads that for me sometimes . . .
ENRIQUE: I have Sibilla, yes.
ANDREW: And it’s just, you know, she’s so great at it. It’s just, she’s like, “Oh, look at this. Somebody’s going to do something you don’t like, but this is going to happen. But there you go. It’s so wonderful,” right? They have a sense of it, I think, which is great and . . .
ANDREW: It’s less about teaching and more about just . . .
ENRIQUE: Yeah. I mean my son, when I explained . . . Yeah, when I explained [01:02:08] it to my son in after 15 minutes, he told me, “Oh, I understand. This is all about transformations.” And I realized, “Oh, it took you 15 minutes, it took me 15 years.”
ENRIQUE: You know, that’s that. Yeah.
ANDREW: All right. Next question. What is the poem that the world needs in these times?
ENRIQUE: I don’t know. I mean, I guess my [01:02:38] issue is that I don’t have any faith in the poem.
ENRIQUE: As you know, in the actual poem. I guess there’s poetry, and poetry’s everywhere in a sense. But I will say in terms of poetry, yes, yes, you just need to listen to the sparrows. You know, the sparrows have this beautiful thing, that is, they are like Zen monks. A sparrow only makes a, like a little sound, you know, over and over and over, so it says everything it needs to say in one syllable. It’s [01:03:08] almost like tasting water, you know. So . . .
ANDREW: Yeah, yeah.
ENRIQUE: Yeah, the voice of the sparrow.
ANDREW: What has surprised you regarding tarot in the last couple of years?
ENRIQUE: You know, the tarot world is like that movie, Groundhog Day.
ANDREW: (bursts out laughing)
ENRIQUE: It’s the same day again, over and over.
ANDREW: (still laughing) Yes, Bill Murray.
ENRIQUE: So, we’re all Bill [01:03:38] Murray.
ANDREW: Perfect. Yeah.
ENRIQUE: And that’s . . . Every day the same deck is being published, the same book is being published, the same conversation about the origin of tarot is being published, the same theory about the secret behind it is being discussed.
ENRIQUE: And that’s how we go, you know, it never ends.
ANDREW: Perfect. Do you consider tarot magic? And do you practice any forms of magic?
ENRIQUE: Oh, every morning, [01:04:08] I sit at a café, in the same place next to a window. I look at words in my notebook. And if something appears [garbled–black?], in terms of form, I share it with some people and then that snowballs into something.
ENRIQUE: And that’s the magic I do. And, yeah, I mean, everything can be, I guess, magic, but I do feel that for something to be magical, there has to be an otherness.
ENRIQUE: Meaning it has to take you to another [01:04:38] place. It’s, I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine doing magic with something that is completely like a daily thing, you know, but it could be. I mean, I think that, yeah. In any case, I don’t know if magic. I think that the world has a poetic influence, meaning that forms speak to each other through analogy. Maybe that’s magic. I don’t know if magic is an intelligence. I don’t [01:05:08] know again, if there’s an agency, like a big finger that is invisible and it’s swirling things behind. I don’t know.
ANDREW: Yeah. Fair. And last question: What would, what would it take for you to put your tarot deck again right now? Given that you’re not really doing readings and such any more.
ENRIQUE: Every time I make an exception.
ANDREW: Yes. Yeah.
ENRIQUE: Every time I make an exception, [01:05:38] I end up confirming that it’s pointless.
ENRIQUE: So, no, I don’t think so. I’m not, you know, I have nothing to sell, and I’m not in a crusade for people, not to do readings or to any kind of ideas I may have, I’m just trying to get by finding my own language. I will do all these things, which is a way of saying to find my own. You know, I think that that’s what the philosopher’s stone is. To find your own language.
ENRIQUE: And your own language is not English or Spanish or Italian. It’s how [01:06:08] you organize forms around you. And that’s why they . . . you know, the, the alchemists say, that’s a great work, you know, and they say the philosopher’s stone cannot be handed down, you know, passed to another person. You have to find it yourself. It’s because of that. You have to find your own language.
ENRIQUE: Otherwise you’re just living in the shadow of another person’s language.
ANDREW: Right. Perfect.
ENRIQUE: And yeah, so, so and well. Yeah. Okay.
ANDREW: I think that’s a great place [01:06:38] to leave it. Go find your language, everybody!
ANDREW: Perfect. And if it sounds like birds, let us know. (laughs)
ANDREW: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for hanging out with me this morning and especially for fighting through all the Skype up and downs. It’s what I get for recording during Mercury retrograde.
ENRIQUE: Oh, it’s okay. It’s always great.
ENRIQUE: Thank you. It’s always great to talk to you.
ANDREW: Thank you, you too.
ENRIQUE: I hope to soon.
ANDREW: [01:07:09] I hope you love this conversation, as always, I hope that. Enrique did all the Patreons the pleasure of recording a bird song just for them. So if you are a supporter of the Patreon in the $5 and up category, you can go find that recording now at Patreon.com/TheHermitsLamp, and if you’re not a supporter: Well, what are you waiting for? The birds are waiting to speak to you. Talk to you next time.