EP 98 Plants and the Magic of Place with Marcus McCoy

Marcus and Andrew talk about what it means to really deeply connect with the land or space where you live. They explore their experiences with plants, spirits, and magic. Going further they talk about how you might grow beyond your limits through exploring this kind of magic 

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Andrew
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ANDREW: [00:00:00] Welcome to another installment of The Hermit’s Lamp podcast. I’m here today with Marcus McCoy, and I would say that Marcus is a Renaissance person, in a way. You [00:00:15] know, I was thinking about how I would introduce them and I’m like, well, they’re, they’re into magic, and they’re into plants, and they’re into perfumes, and they’re …. And I just started thinking, you know, they’re kind of into everything as far as I know, you know, there’s not a lot that [00:00:30] falls outside of the scope of their interests and so on. And I had the pleasure of meeting Marcus a few years back at the Northwest Tarot Symposium, and we had a great time hanging out and making ridiculous esoteric jokes, and a little bit of serious conversation [00:00:45] too. But yeah, but for people who don’t know you, Marcus, give us the, give us a quick down low.

MARCUS: Renaissance man is pretty good. That’s a pretty good aspiration. When I was younger, I would try [00:01:00] my hand at pretty much any art form. I could, I just had to be creative and I’d get really bored [laughs] or hit like a [garbled at 1:11] and have to like pursue some other art form. And yeah, that’s pretty accurate for me. Yeah, [00:01:15] I I own two different businesses. I have the House of Orpheus and Troll Cunning Forge. Troll Cunning Forge is a artisan blacksmithing [00:01:30] talisman-making project that I’ve started a couple years ago, when I started blacksmithing, I’ve only been doing that for a couple years now. I really love it, I’m really passionate about it. And House [00:01:45] of Orpheus is my perfume company. I’ve always had a passion for perfumes, I’m . . . not the typical passion for perfumes, but it’s something that’s really interested me for a [00:02:00] very long time. So that project, those are my two businesses and then we run the Veridas Genii Symposium, my partner and I and, what else? Yeah, I’ve [00:02:15] got my, we have a lot of different projects that we’re working on.

ANDREW: For sure.

MARCUS: We’re also going to be starting [garbled at 2:23] and a lot of different things ….

ANDREW: Very cool. So I guess one of the things that stands out for me, and [00:02:30] one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the podcast, was to talk about, kind of, kind of what you do, for sure, but also the way in which you approach it, because you know my experience of kind of both [00:02:45] talking with you and seeing your stuff online, is that there is a different sense of relationship to plants and spirit and materials then, then maybe I run into in a lot of places, [00:03:00] you know? And I’ve seen a lot of talk over the last couple years as the word animismreturns to favor in the, you know, in the Western magical circles and it seems to me [00:03:15] that you’ve been an animist since before animism was cool. If that makes any sense, you know, but….

MARCUS: I’ve been making animism cool, actually. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

MARCUS: Yeah, the Bioregional Animism Project, bioregional animism [00:03:30] was something that I had coined. I started that many years ago and started an online community, back when tribes dot net was a thing? 

ANDREW: Okay.

MARCUS: And, and had a, the [00:03:45] first blog on bioregional animism, called Bioregional Animism. That sadly got taken offline when Blogger got [00:04:00] bought up or absorbed into Google and they made it impossible for you to like maintain your, or renew your account with them. So, yeah, I got [00:04:15] absorbed but I still have all the information. It’s still in Blogger. I just can’t have the Bioregional Animism.com anymore. It got logged. Yeah.

ANDREW: So, tell me about how you came to that. Like, how did you come to bioregional animism?

MARCUS: [00:04:31] I was working with a South American shaman doing a particular set of ceremonies every year. The ceremony, the [00:04:46] particular ceremony was called the Long Dance Ceremony, and he would incorporate South American shamanic practices with this North American dance that he had learned from his teacher and a beautiful [00:05:01] painted arrow. And a lot of the insight that you got from the Long Dance Ceremony was that you are the land dancing, you are place. And so as [00:05:17] an extension of place, the spirit of place moves through you and creates the prayers it dances. And through that insight, I started recognizing that animism [00:05:32] as a whole was the genus loci or the spirit of place moving through us, creating new traditions, establishing relationships to maintain an equilibrium within [00:05:47] the bioregion, in the larger ecological whole, which includes human beings. But the problem is that most people think of themselves as being separate from that . . .

ANDREW: Sure.

MARCUS: Ceremonies like that [00:06:04] allowed us to or assist us in recognizing that we are the spirit of place and we are an expression of place and that the traditions that we think that we are creating: We’re actually [00:06:19] just also an expression of that place experiencing itself as us. And so, I think that that was the, that’s what I experienced, and wanted to share with other people and [00:06:34] so Bioregional Animism became a way of communicating that to other people. Now keep in mind, animism at that time . . . I had an anthropology background. I was, I had my degree in transpersonal [00:06:49] anthropology. So I was, I was young when this started, in my 20s, when I first started writing about bioregional animism, and I was incorporating a lot of words that I [00:07:04] felt could articulate it carefully. And so I went against the old animist anthropological structure of what animism meant and were the new research [00:07:19] and the new academic perspectives on animism, which were highlighted by religious scholars like Graham Harvey. So he’s . . . what he did there was basically redefine animism in a way [00:07:34] that was more akin to global populations of animist people, how they actually perceive it. The previous model, the Western anthropological model, or perceived perception of what animism [00:07:49] was, was a projection of neoPlatonism onto indigenous world views where they . . . Which, I mean, that’s kind of what the colonists have always done, you know? [laughs]

ANDREW: Sure.

MARCUS: from what . . . doesn’t everyone think of things in terms of spirits? [00:08:04] And you know, like, the mind-body split and all these neo-Platonic ideas. We just project them everywhere or see them everywhere. But the reality is, is that once you get involved with a indigenous [00:08:19] world view and start to learn their perspective, you start seeing that it’s not, you know, there’s more than one ontological system in the world. [laughs] IAnd it’s not all neoPlatonism and they don’t all view the world in the same way that we do in terms of, [00:08:34] like, there being a body and a spirit and when the body dies the spirit goes into the spiritual plane, and that’s not how all the, all the world sees it. 

So instead of thinking of [00:08:49] animism as things having an animating spirit, we move over to a new way of looking at it, which is a relational ontology. And I think that’s the thing that a lot of people, now that animism is really popular, a lot of people are [00:09:04] really missing that. They’re still thinking from this old colonial projection of animism onto animist people, indigenous people, but they, they’re doing themselves a [00:09:19] great disservice, to not thinking about it further and actually looking at what indigenous people did and instead they’re just maintaining, they’re not animist, they’re still there, they’re still neo-Platonist, but they’re now just allowing [00:09:34] other things to have a spirit. 

ANDREW: Right.

MARCUS: Right.

ANDREW: So, so that distinction between sort of projecting a human experience as a spirit in a body, right? [00:09:50] being extended to everything else, which is the sort of Platonic model right? And, and then in the other model, can you say more for people about what that’s, what that difference is? How is that difference [00:10:06] seen, you know, and I understand there’s no universal difference there. But like what are, what are some other ideas or other ways of thinking about that that, you know, that use smaller words, maybe.

MARCUS: [laughs] So. [sigh] You [00:10:21] want me to use smaller words? Damn it. Okay! I used to do that in the psych ward all the time and I led student groups . . . [laughs] So maybe, so [00:10:36] we are lending, we are. We are accepting that there, the world has many different viewpoints as to how it may work.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: Right? And that not one is superior to another.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: And [00:10:52] that it is very mysterious.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: And that that mystery may never be solved. 

ANDREW: Yes. 

MARCUS: Okay? So that, that’s, that’s, that’s how we can get our foundation of what may be an ontology. 

ANDREW: Yeah!

MARCUS: From [00:11:08] a simple standpoint. But then, so from a relational ontology standpoint, we’re run understanding that it’s our relationships and how we relate with the world around us that helped create the way we perceive the universe. [00:11:23]

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: And so in that, what makes animism a relational ontology is that we accept and lend our own personhood to others. And [00:11:38] we acknowledge others as being persons . . .

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: That have the ability to communicate with us, just as we do, because that’s a trait that persons have.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: They can communicate, right?

ANDREW: Yeah.

MARCUS: And so [00:11:54] now we’ve gone and we’ve taken animism and we’ve removed it from this idea that it has to revolve around an animating spirit.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: Because having an animating spirit revolves around one particular ontological [00:12:10] system. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

MARCUS: And we defined that as being neoPlatonism, right? That we’re projecting onto all worlds’ ontological systems. So we stopped doing that and now we can open up and acknowledge that there may be other ways of relating [00:12:25] to persons. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: Right? 

ANDREW: Yup.

MARCUS: That are still animist because of the relation aspect. So that means that there’s a whole lot of different ways that we can relate. And I [00:12:40] think that’s really interesting from a, and that’s where I really got into the bioregional aspect was that when I was writing about it, I never wanted anyone to identify as a bioregional animist, and that’s kind of against the point [laughs], was, is to [00:12:55] relate to place as self and to allow place to express itself as you. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: And so you would, as, in doing so, you would get to know yourself as place and, and [00:13:10] new traditions, new ways of being, new practices would become like an expression just like a plant evolving in a place and, and, and now taking on new traits as it evolved [00:13:25] surroundings. And so, unfortunately, a lot of people like these catchphrases and they want identity and so they don’t want to go deep with that. And so they just identified bioregional [00:13:40] animist and they still are working with these old ideas of what animism means and they weren’t really paying attention when I was talking in the first place, apparently. [laughs]

ANDREW: Well, and I think that, you know, having having relationships [00:13:55] to, to spirit and to place, you know, so often people are, at least from what I see and hear, a lot of it is very identity-driven, is very narrow [00:14:10] in its perspective. Right? And I think that there’s .  . . and what I hear you talking about, there is a multitude of possibilities that continue to be present all the time, you know? And I think [00:14:25] about it like, you know, I mean I’m practicing, you know, the Lukumí tradition, right, you know? There there are things that have aché, right? They have energy and they have a certain kind of energy that, that [00:14:41] might be seen to be inherent in them. But those things are modified and that energy is changed or different depending on the relationship, and what’s going on in the time and place, and [00:14:56] where it’s active, and it’s different depending on the presence of the spirits and whether the Orishas are present and whether they are embodying those elements, or using those elements in a certain way, at which point that thing [00:15:11] becomes something different than it was before. And, in amongst all of that, it’s continuously shifting and able to sort of hold a variety of energies, relationships, [00:15:26] or, or spirit for that matter, and, but it’s not easily definable in terms of: this is the thing that it is, right? Does that make sense? Is that kind of some of what you’re [00:15:41] talking about?

MARCUS: Totally, and Lukumí is really an interesting example because it’s something that spread from Africa to the New World and in every place that adapted [00:16:00] to or recreated itself in, whether it was, I guess, Cuba and Brazil being the primary places. And some people could argue, I guess, that [00:16:15] there was influences, of course, too, like Haiti, but you can see. And I may be wrong there, but I’m no expert . . . [crosstalking at 16:22)

ANDREW: That too, for sure.

MARCUS: Yeah sure. So it really is fascinating to see the differences in the way that they express themselves [00:16:30] and how they adapted to place and how they had to adapt to different plants and wildlife and nature itself, you know, and those are . . .  It’s nature religion in a sense. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah. So [00:16:45] how do people, how do people start to, to find this kind of deeper connection? Like what, what do people, you know, now that your blogger group is gone. How do people, how do people approach this? What, you [00:17:00] know for people looking to, you know, go beyond sort of the kind of more direct or limited perspective we started off talking about and looking to kind of dig deeper into how do we, how do we live in relationship [00:17:15] to space and to the things that are there? What do you suggest people do?

MARCUS: Well, I think, I mean, it’s difficult because we’re not born with that. You know, like the, the language of speaking [00:17:30] place isn’t our first language, you know? We’re taught a consumer-based language, you know, a trade language, you know, at least in North America, you know, it’s a what is it, a Creole or a English is a considered a Creole or a trade [00:17:45] language, which is interesting. But we need to change, we need to learn the language of the land itself. We need to go out and start deconstructing [00:18:00] the identity that we’ve been taught that excludes place from being self.

ANDREW: Right.

MARCUS: But we got to discover why that is, within ourselves, and all these different things that the ego is clung [00:18:16] onto to create that structure that we identify as, as, as you are I. And that’s a process that’s individual, but it needs to include place and the spirits of place in that process. [00:18:31] Humbly. And I also believe that one of the greatest ways of accomplishing that is through the venue of humble service. I think finding a way to integrate [00:18:47] your motivations and your spiritual path in that process of discovering and deconstructing the ego and replacing it with a sense of self as, as, as one with place, [00:19:02] is best done through the lens of a path of servitude, humble servitude.

ANDREW: Yeah. I think, I think it’s easy to, you know, it’s just come up on many podcasts that I’ve done over the past few [00:19:17] years. It’s easy to have a very transactional relationship with spirit. Or to try and have a transactional relationship with spirit. You know, I mean, I think about how people approach the goetia and other things right? Listen, here, you do this. I’ll do this. Let’s [00:19:32] get it done, you know, it’s . . . But you know, it’s not necessarily, it doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily work that way, or I mean, it can work that way, but it’s not, it can’t be . . . like connecting to place can’t be centered around that [00:19:47] as the practice.

MARCUS: I think that what I learned from Peruvian practices is the idea of like sacred reciprocity, where there’s a, there’s a, an experience of life force always [00:20:02] going on and that it’s not transactional per se, it’s more of a respect and honor and gratitude and there are these things that make animism, that are kind of like, [00:20:17] that, you can see between all animist societies that become like a, sort of, what you, we, consider spiritual where it’s a, it’s living from the heart and the will, you know, like where you’re, [00:20:33] you’re honoring everything. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

MARCUS: All the time. [laughs] And your respect to everything all the time and you’re in such deep gratitude to everything all [00:20:48] the time, you know? Like a good friend of mine in a ceremony once told me, you know, when we were talking about, you know, and and trying to deconstruct those, those ego constructs that, that prevent [00:21:03] us from, from feeling and allowing the the spirit of land to be us and he looked at me and he’s like, you know, the more I’m grateful for, the more I have to be grateful for. And [00:21:18] it was just these little, these little things, these little insights that come throughout life, you know? When you’re dedicated to working on that, that path, that you remember they are [00:21:33] so simple, but they keep, they keep your feet on the ground. 

ANDREW: Yeah. For sure.

MARCUS: For making [garbled at 21:42] process. 

ANDREW:  Yeah, and I think that there’s a quality to the way in which we [00:21:48] pay attention that changes with these kinds of approaches too? You know it’s not about . . . It’s about noticing what happens and noticing those things as as the dialogue, you know, [00:22:03] and being part of that conversation, you know? I think about, you know, the birds that visit my backyard, I think about the surprising plants that emerged this spring, new, that I have never had my yard before. I [00:22:18] don’t know where they came from, you know, I’m like, excellent, wonderful, welcome, new friends, what’s, you know? And, and that will be a thing that I will mull over for months to come, you know, and sort of get a sense of what those, what those are, and what they want, and why [00:22:33] they, you know, why they’re here. And I understand that on one level, we could say, “Well, probably the squirrels dug them up or the birds spread the seeds,” but but that’s not really what it’s about. Right? It’s about understanding what that relationship means and what that shifting [00:22:48] relationship means as an extension of, as you say, ourselves, and as our sort of very very extended sense of self within a space.

MARCUS: Yeah, and you know, it’s interesting as an herbalist, I get really excited because there’s [00:23:03] this idea called, like, volunteer plants, where like a plant will volunteer itself or introduce itself. And it’s literally like discovering a new part of yourself, right? [laughs] Like, I didn’t [00:23:18] know that I was really like that or or this is something about me that I never realized before, you know, that’s similar. It’s a similar sense, or, like feeling, but you get really excited when this, this new plant introduces itself, or a new animal. Any time I see a new life-form that [00:23:33] I’ve never seen before, you can ask my partner. I’m just like, [laughs] “oh my God.” [sighs]

ANDREW: What is it? What’s going on? What do you mean? What do you got to say? Sure, yeah. 

MARCUS: [laughing] Yeah, I get just entranced and I just fall in love with [00:23:48] all these new plants that I discover, I remember when I first discovered, talking more about plants now, but there’s a plant called the ground ivy. And this plant [00:24:03] just kept appearing. I just kept seeing it here and there and it kept showing up, kept showing up, kept showing up and I was really fascinated by it, and it just caught my eye, and it was such a subtle plant where you really would, you would just glance over at, [00:24:18] you wouldn’t even notice it. It just has, it grows like in the grass. You can’t even see it sometimes. And sometimes you’ll see like entire outcroppings of it. But it’s really inconspicuous and doesn’t really show itself and [00:24:33] it’s got these little green kidney-shaped leaves and these little tiny, every once in a while, it’ll have these little tiny purple flowers. And you really don’t notice it and when you pick it and you . . . Its aromatic properties are kind of [00:24:49] maybe a little like on the mint level but a little bit more pungent like a geranium kind of like in this place in between the two, but like, more, little bit more like leaning towards like the stinking geranium side. And, and [00:25:04] so you’re like, “Okay, well, maybe it’s kind of a bitter,” and then I did some, you know, I tried finding out what it was, trying to identify a plant that you’ve never heard of before, just found, it’s kind of challenging.

ANDREW: Sure.

MARCUS: But I was, I was able to find some some people that were like, “Oh [00:25:19] it’s this,” you know, and I posted a picture and and found some, talked to some other plant geeks and figured out that it was what it was and started doing more research looking at folklore stuff with it. And lo and behold this [00:25:34] plant is used to help you identify who’s a witch.

ANDREW: Okay.

MARCUS: And that it will help you identify who’s done witchcraft on you. But that’s just in the folklore, you know, like you read [00:25:49] this and I was like, “okay.” Well, there’s no, no one tells you about like how they used it or what the folklore was, other than that. It’s just that’s what it was used for or that’s what its purpose was. Its other purpose was as [00:26:04] a gruit, so adding it to beers, as a flavoring for beers, which is also kind of interesting. 

So, I get to know this plant and I’m getting to know this plant now over years. It’s like three or four years of me [00:26:19] having this, like this courtship with this plant, getting to know it better and better and better and better, and there are other ways that I’ve learned to get to know a plant really well, if I really need to. Working [00:26:34] with different visionary plants, you can, like Ayahuasca, for example, you can get to know a plant spirit really easily. And also, if you start practicing any of the work from the Grimoire Sympathia, Charubel’s work [00:26:49] that’s incredible. It’s very much akin to South American plant shamanry. 

But, at any rate, I wasn’t taking the relationship that intensely with this plant and I just wanted to get to know it the long way, but through [00:27:04] just attuning myself to it and working with it, I started getting this idea that I should. take the vine, wrap it into a kind of a wreath, [00:27:19] a small wreath like about the size that could go up your wrist, and look at through it like a monocle just symbolically and then place it into your pocket and carry it around with you. And when I did that, [00:27:35] all of the subtle witchcrafts that people do . . . And when I say subtle witchcrafts, I talk about, you know, like glamour, making yourself look like you’re someone that you’re not, or envidia, you know, or envy, [00:27:50] the evil eye, these little things that everyone’s capable of that happen all the time to people, and that are also magical, and I started seeing [00:28:05] these things happen and people’s glamours especially started to fade away and I started seeing people that were in my life for who they really were, which was really startling. [laughs] And [00:28:21] I was really just blown away by this plant’s ability to do that. And yeah, I grow it now. It’s been very helpful. It’s very helpful.

ANDREW: Well and I think that, it’s [00:28:36] one of the things that’s fascinating. If you spend that time listening and relating, then the plants will show their mysteries, right? You know, and it’s so different than, than, [00:28:51] the idea that we’ll just, you know: “Marcus, tell me, what’s the way what’s the thing I do? How do I, you know, what’s the spell? What’s the, whatever, right?” And I mean, that stuff’s great too, like it’s fine. But, but I think that becoming [00:29:06] curious about it, and being open through curiosity to get to know it, I think often reveals something different. And to me, I think it’s also, it’s sort of like the idea [00:29:21] of like having a license from the plant to work with it. You know? If it reveals its mystery to you through whatever means, to me, that’s often going to be way more effective or [00:29:36] powerful or fruitful than maybe the stuff where you just went and read some stuff in a book and were like, “oh, okay,” and it’s also going to be back to that idea of place. It’s going to be, you know, where you are and [00:29:51] what’s available to you, right? As opposed to, you know, like, as I practice Lukumí in Canada, right? It’s like, it’s hard because there’s not a lot of stuff here that grows in the Caribbean, right? Some. 

MARCUS: You know, I’m here in Seattle, you know in the [00:30:06] Washington area. Yeah, my friends that practice Lukumí, you know, up in Seattle and Renton. Yeah, they have to do the same problems, you know, like with different trees or plants and things and having to order them. And, yeah, it’s interesting, that [00:30:21] tradition and its adaptations to place, working with the local plants. I don’t . . . a lot of it. I’ve seen, I’ve heard some people trying to work with local plants. But yeah, I haven’t seen too much success [00:30:36] with it yet.

But once again, you know, like you were saying, we’re, we’re treating the plant as a person. Not an object.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: Or [00:30:52] a tool. And I think a lot of times, the Western perspective is to treat things as objects and tools and to have a very utilitarian relationship with it. You know, A more [00:31:07] of a new anim-, we’ll call it a new animism approach, would be to relate to the plant as a person and to, like you were saying, you know, like establish a relationship with it. Let the plant teach you its, its, its [00:31:22] secrets, you know, instead of trying to pry the secrets from the plant. We’re getting to know it and a lot of plants really want to help, they [00:31:37] want to introduce themselves to you. They want to, just like I was saying with the volunteer plants. It’s amazing. Motherwort is a classic plant for new moms. And [00:31:52] it will, it’s, historically, it’s been known to to just start growing at a new mother’s house, start growing there and that just helps, you know, if you know motherwort, it’s a bit of an anti-anxiety, [00:32:07] and I’m, I’m sure that your nerves are frazzled when you’re a new parent. [laughs]

ANDREW: Definitely, I can attest to that for sure. Well, there’s something too about being in relationship to those plants over time. You know, I, I used to do this ceremony [00:32:22] at this particular sort of woodland on a, on a farm just north of Toronto, and we did ceremony every month for two years there, basically, and one of the, one [00:32:37] of the highlights was, I spent 10 days there by myself fasting and doing ceremonies and stuff. And during that time, my connection to that place grew tremendously, you know, because [00:32:52] I was there, because I was around it, because I had seen it through seasons, you know?

MARCUS: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And the culmination of that particular retreat, there was a tree, a large cherry tree that [00:33:07] there was, in sort of west of where that the west edge of the, the space we did ritual at, and at the time that I was there, when I was doing my, my evening sun salutations, I [00:33:22] realized that the cherry sap was oozing out of the tree because as the sun set behind it, it became like little stained glass, you know, gems, you know?

MARCUS: I know. Yeah, yeah.

ANDREW: And there are those moments where [00:33:37] you know, that’s, that’s a 15-minute window in the day at one part of the year, you know, but being there for that, it, opens you up to, to different things until you know different ways of relating to it, you [00:33:52] know, collecting with that resin and working with it and doing other things and you know, and so on, right? It’s just, it’s like, it’s like, it opens a road for you to start traveling down.

MARCUS: Mm-hmm. Indeed. And it’s even more, it’s [00:34:07] even more interesting. They, so a lot of different animist societies believed, because it was, once again, they didn’t necessarily all have this idea of like a spirit or a spirit world. A lot of things were just supernatural, right? [00:34:22] And another trait that persons had was the trait of being able to shapechange or become invisible. So we have invisibility and shapechanging as being traits [00:34:37] that persons have, especially supernaturally powerful persons. And plants and animals were considered some of the most supernaturally powerful beings around, other than huge aspects of nature, you know, lightning, thunder, mountains, [00:34:52] rivers, lakes, things like that, the ocean. 

And so, when you meet a plant and it has shapechanged into human form and it talks to you and [00:35:07] you get to relate to it as a, as an other than human person that is taking on the shape of a human person so that it can relate to you. [00:35:23] You . . . The level of intimacy and the way that you can relate to that plant changes all of a sudden, because we now see that, we no longer see that plant as other, we see it as as human. Oh, wow, [00:35:38] it’s got a human face. It’s got, it’s a person, you know, like because we’re still so indoctrinated especially to only see persons as human persons. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

MARCUS: It’s very hard for us, still, [00:35:53] especially, I think, in Western society to, to lend over personhood to other than human persons or to things that we perceive as being other. We, even within animist societies, that there were things that they didn’t [00:36:08] think of as being a person, and that’s something that’s important to like discuss on the table when we’re looking at animism, is that not all things were considered persons, not all rocks were rock people. Certain rocks were! [00:36:23] 

ANDREW: Yeah.

MARCUS: There were specific rocks sometimes and then sometimes all rocks were considered rock persons, but for the most part, not all rocks were considered rock persons, and that’s, that’s something to consider and to bring into the conversation, but it’s [00:36:39] really interesting when you do have that experience and say, like with the cherry tree that you saw, or the, you experience that you have this really beautiful experience with. You imagine meeting that being, that [00:36:54] cherry tree as it shapechanged itself into a human being and spoke with human words in a way that you could understand and it had a conversation with you, or it taught you something or gave you a song, or it taught you a particular type of magic, [00:37:09] or it taught you a particular type of magic that you could do with its body. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: Right? Or it taught you lessons and related its own personal virtues. You know, the virtues of the cherry [00:37:24] are renowned throughout poetic history. [laughing] 

ANDREW: For sure. Yeah.

MARCUS: And so, and its use in medicine and culinary things, you know, like I [00:37:39] once met strawberry and had, received a powerful lesson from strawberry on sex magic or how to attract and allure and to use glamour to attract people to you. Strawberries [00:37:55] most definitely are very skilled at that. [laughing]

ANDREW: Our emails are gonna be full after this comes out now, right?

MARCUS: Now everybody’s gonna want to know how to talk to strawberries. [laughing] But, but, it’s really, [00:38:10] it changes when you allow that to happen and I believe that the work, like I said, once again, really want to introduce more people to Charubel’s work and the book, The Grimoire Sympathia.[00:38:25] He was a Welsh, a Welsh wizard from the 1800s, who was able to basically accomplish much of the same thing that we acknowledge that like South American [00:38:40] Ayahuasceros are doing, or [badgatalistas?] are doing with with Ayahuasca, but through just honing his psychic abilities to communicate with plants . . . And he did it from a very Western esoteric model, [00:38:55] which I think is really important for Western people to recognize, like here we have this Welsh, you know, if we want to call him a shaman or a sorcerer or a magician, whatever, you have him doing this thing that we exoticize down in South America [00:39:10] and within indigenous communities, and here, this is someone from, you know, like a Western European standpoint. We don’t need to go and and you know, info mine and culturally appropriate from these other cultures in order to like have [00:39:25] communications and have relationships with plants and we don’t have to borrow indigenous traditions that we don’t understand either. The . . . Here this guy has given us, through this book that he wrote, an ability [00:39:40] to do that. And so I’d like to encourage more and more people to do it. The book is available via PDF only at this point, it’s a very rare book. But yeah, the Grimoire Sympathiais great.

ANDREW: Well, and I [00:39:55] think that that’s, people should definitely check that out. I haven’t read it. So I’m going to go check it out and I think it’s back to that idea of like, what’s, what’s, where you are, right, you know? What’s the, what’s growing where [00:40:10] you live, what you know, what’s growing in the parks and ravines and forests or whatever depending on where you are. And how do you, how do you, how can you relate to that? You know? Because I think that there’s so many wonderful [00:40:25] and powerful plants. You know, like people, you know, there’s a lot of discussion about sage and smudging and fumigation and stuff like that. And you know, if you want to clean something spiritually, you know, like [00:40:40] one of my favorite things to go to is, you know, I have a very deep and long term relationship with the burdock plant, you know. And you go dig up some of those roots and, you know, cook them up and use that to spray around your place, does a really [00:40:55] good job of getting rid of a lot of stuff, you know? And it’s not . . . 

MARCUS: Yeah.

ANDREW: You know, and it’s not exotic or fancy or glamorous or whatever. In fact, it’s a lot of work of trying to get those roots out of the ground, but it’s worth it. You know?

MARCUS: Yeah. [00:41:10] Yeah. Yeah. I mean there’s a lot, there’s a lot of different things that you can do too, I mean whether it’s in just paying attention to your surroundings and I mean around here, we have Western red cedar and Western red cedar’s always been worked with for, for [00:41:25] cleansing amongst the indigenous people up here. But if you just start paying attention to the plant, you know, you don’t have to go through and like adopt their, their beliefs, you know, or imitate their behaviors. [00:41:40] You can actually just look at the plant and to go, “Well, this plant doesn’t allow anything to grow underneath of it.” 

ANDREW: Yeah.

MARCUS: Nothing grows underneath of a red cedar. And if you stand underneath of a red cedar in the middle of summertime [00:41:55] peak heat you can actually feel the essential oils dripping out of it in a vaporing form and falling on you and then those get into the, they saturate the soil as well as, [00:42:10] you know, the branches falling down, but within that, within the essential oils, volatile oils that are within the plant, you’ve got insecticides and herbicides and all these different like things that prevent other things from living underneath [00:42:25] of it.

ANDREW: Sure.

MARCUS: And so it cleanses, it creates a protective circle around itself because trees grow in the circle [laughing] and so they naturally protect themselves and so, [00:42:40] you look at the relationship. It has with water. You, what you do, you sit underneath of a cedar tree in the rain and you, you pay attention to like, well, you know, through the the branches, the water are taking those [00:42:55] same volatile oils and they’re driving it deeper into the, into the soil, right? So there’s a relationship between the rain and the cedar. And when I saw that and experienced that I was given a gift. [00:43:11] Of taking branches from the cedar, you know, like giving some of my hair in return, you know, and like, like taking a branch or tobacco and, and, and taking the cedar branch [00:43:26] and dipping it in water and then using that to, to spurge . . .

ANDREW: Sure.

MARCUS: Or to cleanse myself and that’s not imitating anybody, that’s not culturally appropriating anything. That’s me sitting [00:43:41] underneath of a cedar tree paying attention to how it grows and what its place is amongst all the other life forms and the forces of nature that helped create it. And we can do that. We [00:43:56] can take the time to pay attention and to learn. And like I said, if you really go deep and you can allow yourself to even allow the the land to move you physically, it can move your mind, it can move your, your voice. [00:44:11] It can speak through you and to actually have that experience and to allow the spirit of place, the spirit of the land, the intelligence of the land, the genii of the land to move you physically [00:44:27] in a dance or in a trance state is powerful. 

And to allow a plant, certain plants are more prone to doing that than others, like teacher plants or tutelary plants. They can come [00:44:42] in and they can move you and they can physically teach you and share your body and when that happens, it’s pretty incredible. And it’s a pretty cool thing. And [00:44:57] that’s when you start, it’s through having those experiences repeatedly that you start, that that level of reverence intensifies, and that level of gratefulness [00:45:12] intensifies, and that level of respect intensifies, and the way you live your life becomes shaped by those things, and they become that, and the way you relate to the world around you starts to change, and [00:45:27] that’s what we would call spiritual but that’s once again . . . [laughing] Spirit is a word that’s kind of constructed by the Western, you know, philosophical language base and it’s not necessarily . . . We have to kind of find our own way of relating [00:45:42] to it and it’s . . . the word spiritualmight not really even apply anymore.

ANDREW: Well, and I think one of the things that happens too, is that when you’re, when you’re working to be present in that way, whether we want to think of it as the [00:45:57] Earth reveals more things to you or perhaps the plants and other things that are there, you know, encourage their friends to reveal more to you, you know, but it becomes this process of expanding [00:46:12] and sort of opening towards, you know, deeper access, deeper knowledge, you know, more mystery . . . because I think that mystery is always a part of it and I’ve found personally that you [00:46:27] know, the longer, the longer I try and hold this approach to working and being in the world, the more often something emerges even in advance of when I actually need it or [00:46:42] before I know that I need it too, you know, there’s this kind of fascinating thing where something will start to show up and then, you know, a month later, I’ll be like, “oh, hey, I’m glad, I’m glad I saw you, and now that, now that this thing came up, what [00:46:57] do you think about helping me with that?” And it’s, you know, it’s like it was already, it was aware of it before I was, right? You know? Which I think, Which I think is fascinating, and you know, some of the, yeah, what’s the right word, [00:47:12] deeper magic, more wondrous happenings, around this kind of stuff, you know. Yeah.

MARCUS: Yeah, those wondrous happenings that kind of maintain and create that sense of of awe, you [00:47:27] know, having that being a source of humility for yourself. Is beautiful, having more of those awe experiences. [laughs] I mean to me, I mean, that’s, that’s a motivating [00:47:42] factor into the exploration of magic itself, you know, like having more of those awe, like, awe-dropping sort of experiences. It’s amazing. Yeah. That’s where it’s at. 

ANDREW: It’s [00:47:57] definitely where it’s at. Well, maybe we should wrap it up on that point: go out, and find the mystery and engage the . . .

MARCUS: As I learned in a ceremony once, it’s that we must perpetuate the mystery at all costs.

ANDREW: [00:48:12] Mm-hmm. I like it.

MARCUS: Me too.

ANDREW: So for folks who want to find out more about you or follow along on your great creations and shenanigans on the [00:48:27] Internets. Where should they come and look for you? Where’s good places for your stuff and for where you’re hanging out?

MARCUS: Okay, so I have House of Orpheus.comthat you can find pretty [00:48:43] easily on Facebookas well as just House of Orpheus.com. And we’re also on Instagram. I post on Instagram multiple times a day for each one of the projects that I work on, just to keep [00:48:58] people informed. Then there’s also my metal work, working with talismans and blacksmithing, and that’s at Troll Cunning Forge and we’re mostly on Instagramand Etsy. I [00:49:13] post a lot of my one-off stuff on Instagram though. And so, just keep updated with the Instagram profile. And then the Veridis Genii Symposium, which is VeridisGenii.com. [00:49:28] So that’s V I R I D I S . . .

ANDREW: We’ll put a link in the notes. 

MARCUS: Yeah, if I was writing it down easy, no, and [00:49:43] then we, so we have a Instagram for that as well as a Facebook profile and website. That’s going to be coming up really soon, people that are really interested in plant magic. I highly recommend checking it out. We’ve got Daniel Schuelke and [00:49:58] Corinne Boyer and there’s a whole bunch of really just amazing people speaking this year and it’s, really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great event.

ANDREW: And also there’s a publication in the same name which we . . .

MARCUS: Yeah.

ANDREW: Which [00:50:13] we carry in the shop, when we’re back up and running, but you know, yeah, it’s around, you can definitely get that as well. And there’s a lot of great stuff in there that’s worth checking out.

MARCUS: Yeah, we just edited . . . This is our fifth year. So the fifth edition, it’s [00:50:28] going to be amazing. So yeah, really looking forward to it being published, and we publish that when it comes out during the, the event so it’s available at the event for people.

ANDREW: That’s awesome. Well, thanks for hanging out with me today, Marcus. It’s been a pleasure.

MARCUS: Yeah, [00:50:43] likewise. It’s been great. Any time.

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