EP119 All out of Words with Stacking Skulls

Aidan, Andrew, and Fabeku catch up for their third episode since the pandemic started. They talk about burnout, bandwidth and the way they are running out of words, direction and ideas about what is helpful. They talk about their magical practices, goals, and what has shifted in their lives too.

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Andrew : Hey folks, welcome to episode four of the spring, 2021 season of podcasts. I hope that you are enjoying, what’s been going on so far and also episode 119 of the podcast. It seems like a lot, all of a sudden, every now and then I have these moments where I’m like, wow, there’s so many episodes. I’ve been doing this for so long. And I want to take a moment here before we get going to ask you to support the podcast. All right. I feel like one of those old time telephone, telephone, marathon, TV things, please support the shows. Please make sure that we can continue to deliver a quality programming. But really what I’m saying here is please help make sure that people can access this programming by supporting the podcast. The links for doing it are in the show notes through buy me coffee or some other options in order to make sure that transcriptions are available so that everybody can enjoy the content here and learn what’s going on.

Imagine if you had found it a bit, this podcast and heard people talking about it, but were completely unable to access it because the only thing available was the audio. We really want to make sure that everybody can get to this material and providing transcriptions is the way for that to happen. So jump in, make it happen. There are literally about 1500 people who listen to every episode of this podcast. And so far we’re at less than 10 people who’ve made that step. So please don’t put it off. Uh, please jump in and support this. Let’s make this work accessible to everybody because I think it’s important. I certainly, if you’re continuing to listen, you must think it’s important. Um, so let’s share that around to make sure that people can get up

All right on with the show folks.

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Andrew : Hey folks, welcome to another episode of The Hermit’s Lamp. I am here today with Stacking Skulls. Stacking Skulls is Fabeku Fatunmise, and Aidan , and myself Andrew . This is our fake cult rock band. We recorded a couple of podcast episodes together and somewhere along the way the name stuck and we have just continued with it ever since. We release no music, we have no actual albums. None of us are even playing music in this arena right now. But what we do is we get together and just talk about life and magic and whatever’s going on. As Aidan pointed out before we started recording this podcast, this is the third episode during a lockdown or during the pandemic. I scrolled back and looked through and I think this is our 11th episode. We’ve done 10 episodes so far. You can go check them out. There’ll be a link in the show notes to probably just a page where I’ll list all of the ones that we’ve done together. I’m going to skip the introductions as we often usually do here, it’s just like, “Who are you, and what are you up to?” Let’s just go straight to, what’s going on? What’s new? Last time we recorded, I believe was in the fall sometime. What’s going on? What’s new in your world these days folks? 

Aidan : New kitty cat and ants. We have ants. 

Andrew : Congratulations.

Aidan : I would like to sound cooler than that. Those are the focuses of my days right now, but those are the focuses of the day. 

Andrew : Do you talk to the ants? I mean, I’m assuming you talk to the cat. 

Aidan : I do talk to the cat. I do explain to the ants that it will go poorly for them if they continue their endeavors in my house. This is why I can’t really be a Buddhist.

Andrew : Fair enough. We all have our limits, right? 

Aidan : Totally. That’s mine. 

Andrew : Yeah. How about you, Fabeku. What’s shaking in your world?

Fabeku : Still one cat, no ants as of now, knock on wood. That’s a thing. Yeah, I don’t know. Life just feels super different than it did the last time we talked. It feels super different than a week ago at this point. Yeah, I don’t know. Lots of stuff changing and shifting and dropping off and popping up. Most of it’s good, but life in this weird moment, it’s a thing. 

Andrew : Yeah, yeah for sure. Yeah. I’ve been, number one, ants, yes. There’s a colony. In front of my place there’s patios that run across all the… it’s like a townhouse thing, and there’s a bunch of patio stones that run all the way across. The ants have erupted through the cracks in the patio stones. I’m like, got to have a conversation with those folks about getting gone because, yeah, there’s a lot of them. If it was just a few, some years it’s just a few, it’s like, “You guys can hang out.” But there’s so many of them and I’m like, “No, this is going to be a problem. It’s only going to get worse as the year goes on.”

Aidan : We would actually probably be okay, except that we have a baby kitty who’s on wet food, which is the combo is not possible. They got to cone inside for it. It’s like, well then I got to kill you. 

Andrew : Yeah, for sure. But yeah, I’m feeling that transformational vibe. I feel like I’m not even sure that I can entirely articulate what’s going on with things, but maybe it’s a bit of a feeling like we’re scheduled to reopen here after being locked down since. By the time we were open we’ll have been pretty much closed almost entirely except for like curbside pickup and deliveries and stuff across the city for like six months. But we’re supposed to be reopening starting maybe mid June. Yeah I feel like all these questions, these memes that I saw kicking around, “What do you want to not change back after things close? What’s changed because of COVID?” And so on. 

I don’t know about that, that stuff often feels way too simplistic to me. But I do think it’s a point of reflection and reconsideration, and to some extent even checking back in with pieces that I think of as being deeply core to my identity, that just haven’t had the capacity for expression for what’ll probably be like 18 months or two years maybe by the time this is fully, fully done. Yeah. 

Aidan : Yeah, I definitely get a piece of that and I’ve gotten quieter and quieter during this, it’s been good. It’s got me really looking at a lot of my… I would just say that there’s a lot of stuff that I can ignore when I’m busy and so becoming way less busy has really brought a lot of that to the forefront. That’s been really my focus and still is, is like, okay, so it’s funny. I have like a book that wants to come out but I’m also like, I don’t know that I can do that book until I’m a little further along what’s going on right now.

Fabeku : Yeah. I noticed a similar thing for me with the quiet. I think that, I mean, outside of client stuff and teaching stuff, I had a period and I think I’m on the tail end of it. Maybe, I don’t know. It was almost like I just didn’t have words. I would have conversations with people and I was unusually quiet and not that I was disinterested. But it’s like the words weren’t even there, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to respond when somebody asked me what am I up to. I don’t know. It has translated to some of the writing stuff too because I was working on some writing stuff, book stuff. Then a few months ago I would just sit and look it’s like, I don’t know what to say. It was an odd thing. There was a… I don’t dig it. I mean, I think it probably is a, for me, organic part of the process. Yeah, I don’t dig it a ton. 

That’s the thing that, because I spent some time thinking, is this shifting in response to what’s going on? Is it the fact that still, what, 14, 15 months in still haven’t left the house once in that period of time? Is it being tired? Is it depression? What is it? I don’t know what it is. It probably is a mix of all of those things, but I’ve never experienced that before in 46 years, ever. Never have I experienced it like this before, it’s really strange. 

Andrew : Yeah. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum which is, my COVID experience is every time we’d go into lockdown, my regular workweek which cruises, if I’m lucky, 35 hours, 40 hours, something like that. A standard workweek, but spread out between clients and running the shop and stuff like that. My work week just balloons up to like 60 hours because running a business that doesn’t allow for walk-in traffic off the street is just exponentially more time-consuming. There’s so much more correspondence, there’s so much more social media, there’s so much more everything. What I’ve had is not that I don’t know what to say. I’ve got two decks finished that are ready to be published and I just don’t even have the attention to send one of them to the publisher because filling out the paperwork for that feels like just too much. 

It is too much because it’s like, where am I going to find an extra four hours in my week? The answer is only from my already diminished sleep schedule, which just is not an option anymore. It’s like I can’t push that down below seven hours or I’m just not going to be able to show up. Being a parent and having my kids with me half time and they’re schooling from home and there’s all of their needs and feels, and that kind of stuff where they would otherwise probably be a lot more teenager. They’d be like, “Oh, Hey dad, I’m going to Chinatown with my kids to go look at stuffed animals.” “Great. See you later. Text me if you go somewhere else.” Instead we’re around and I’m managing working on their stress a lot and stuff like that. I have lots of things that are waiting to say and just no energy to say them, or no time to encapsulate them and put them out there. 

I mean, I think I said this before, I was going to launch a Kickstarter for my bacon wizard breakfast oracle that I made back in end of March of last year. It was just all synced up, had it already and whatever, and then I was like, “Oh, now we’re locked down.” Then I was like, “Well, I’ll do it in October,” but then the kids didn’t go back to school. Then I was like, “Oh, well maybe I’ll do it.” I’m like, “I don’t need even a Kickstarter anymore. Maybe I’m just going to get a publisher.” But even just that process. Yeah. I’m curious, especially as I become more and more focused on what my time is about these days and what I want or need my time to be about I’m like, “Well, what’s going to be different on the other side of this?” When the kids do go back to school in September, hopefully or once we open up and I can have more staff doing stuff and less me doing stuff, am I going to have the attention for those things? Or has their time passed? I don’t know. It’s confusing. It’s unclear and confusing to think about. 

Aidan : Yeah. Definitely, it is a weird thing. I’ve started two different books and got the same distance into them. Got like a quarter into both of them and it’s like, “Nope, this is not the one that’s happening right now.” It’s a strange moment overall energetically I think. It’s also, it becomes more, I think the thing for me is I’m always trying to produce stuff that’s helpful. The last book was really easy, it synced up really well. This is going to be really helpful for the time that it was. I changed my schedule around it and got it out at the beginning of this more or less, or in the middle of it. But, yeah it’s interesting because I’m not really sure how to get out this stuff that I think is helpful right now. I have stuff that I’m interested in that I think would be overall useful, but it seems like we’re in such a strong transition point that I would like to be able to get something that’s more specifically, not only relevant to now, but will serve the community that reads my stuff now. It’s an interesting conundrum there of what are people actually dealing with and do I know anything that’s useful there? Do I have anything to share that’s useful there? I’m not sure yet.

Fabeku : I went through a similar thing with that because I was full steam ahead on this book on this weird audiovisual magic stuff. I mean, it’s one of the things I love the most and I got to a certain point in, I don’t know, at some point last year, and started to realize, yeah, this is interesting, but it’s not as functionally useful. I mean, it’s not that there’s not practical parts, but it was like, it was exactly what you’re saying. It’s like, oh no, this is not the thing that people need right now. Let’s revisit this in a year from now or two years from now and see where that is. But in terms of… because I started thinking, if people had this in their hand, does this help them navigate what they’re dealing with day to day? It was like, not really, not in a way that feels important now. That project is just shelved for the time being. At some point hopefully I’ll get back to it because I’d love to share some stuff about it. But yeah, exactly that. I just didn’t feel like this is the most meaningful, relevant needed thing right now. 

Aidan : Yeah. I’ve been talking to a number of folks that are also having that same experience and [inaudible 00:13:46] self-publish and you work with [inaudible 00:13:48]. One of the things that is interesting seeing with the folks that are actually working with the bigger publishers is they’re having this happen with projects that they’re committed to on timelines and they’re really struggling with it. There are a couple of folks that are having that issue. 

Andrew : Well I think that, for me anyway, other than super specific one-on-one, I’m reading the cards for a person and we’re talking about what they need right now. I think that it’s become colossally ambiguous what actually is needed right now. What is that thing? I don’t know. I felt a strong pull with working with the ancestors and did a bunch of ancestral healing for everybody and calling on the ancestors who knew about surviving these times to work on stuff, but the pull on that disappeared at a certain point. It was almost like, well, we’ve done what we can now. Maybe that’s not true, maybe it’s something to be revisited, but it feels like I don’t really know what’s going to make a difference anymore. 

Certainly for me, I feel like all that’s left is the last push to what I hope is the finish line. It’s like when you’re riding a bike and you’re like 90 kilometers into a 100-kilometer ride and you’re tired and whatever and you’re like, “I just got to get to the end,” and maybe the last kilometer it feels a little jubilant and whatever as the end is actually in sight, but there’s a push in there somewhere where it’s, there’s nothing to do, but just move my feet and keep going currently. 

Fabeku : Well, I think another part of that, because for me, for all of us I think, that’s how every day has felt like since this shit started, just get to the end of the day and do whatever needs to get done. For me at some point, I don’t know, probably late last year, early this year, I started to look at, what are the pieces that have unhelpful weight to them? What are the pieces that make that last mile hard? I’ve just started just chucking shit left and right. It’s like, Nope, fuck this and fuck that and fuck all of that, and not investing any more time in this piece. I mean, it felt of essential at some point because it was like, “Well, if I don’t do this, am I going to make that last mile? Is that even going to happen?” 

It seems like a ton of people that I’m talking to are doing the same thing. Makes sense and it’s a weird, unexpected part of this. It’s just like, no, I can’t, this is not important or helpful enough to continue to carry this in my backpack when I’m just trying to get to whatever the finish line is. Yeah, there’s been a lot of stuff that’s been jettisoned at this point. 

Aidan : Yeah, I definitely can feel that one. It’s been a huge process and it’s been interesting just to see, if I let go of this, is it okay? It’s that habitual hanging on to certain things and seeing which things are okay and which things I do want to change, like “Okay, that needs to come back in, but it needs to be different.” Because again, there’s only so much. Yeah. There’s only so much I’m interested in doing and that I think is beneficial for me. Then that allows me to be beneficial for my people. If I’m blowing that on the excess baggagey stuff, then I’m both less capable for myself and for helping other people and supporting other people. 

Fabeku : Yeah, for me it’s been almost like, and I’m making this up because I don’t bike or camp, but people that have those nutrient-dense, lightweight meals that they can take with them so that they have the calories and the stuff that they need. I’ve been looking at a lot of that stuff. With magical practice and a lot of other things it’s like, the amount of input that’s required versus the output no longer makes sense. The fact that I find it interesting at this point I don’t give a shit. Interesting is not enough to keep it in the pack for me. It’s, what’s the most effective, efficient, nutrient-dense thing that I can travel with that actually makes sense? The input and the output line up in ways that feel coherent for me at this point.

Andrew : There was a great moment, there’s a movie called Into the Wild, it’s what it’s called, about hiking the Pacific coast trail and, is it the right name? I don’t know. Maybe I have the wrong name for it. Anyway-

Aidan : [inaudible 00:19:10] wild as the Christopher McCandless story.

Andrew : Oh no, not that one then. Anyway, there was a movie, I’ll put it in the show notes, about hiking the Pacific trail. The person who did it, there’s a scene where they’re running into somebody who really knows what they’re doing and they’re like, “All right, unpack your backpack. Let’s go through it.” They’re like, “You don’t need this. You don’t need that. Why do you need two of these? Why do you need whatever?” I think in some ways for me, that stuff is, not that I’ve let my Orisha priest stuff slide per se, although to be honest, I mean, it’s impossible to do much of anything during COVID here in Canada. I mean, in the states people are doing more things, rules are different. But up here it’s like, we’re not supposed to hang out with anybody and everything’s closed, so there’s no options. But I feel like there’s been a reorientation towards that. Not that I forgot that that’s my primary thing, but a commitment and a readiness to step into that in a new level. 

Fabeku : For me it’s been the exact same thing. It’s been the exact same thing. Because I think, again, it’s not that I let that stuff go, but a lot of it just slid into the background and it started to be, I was thinking about it, it’s almost like there’s a piece of art that you really love and it’s on the wall so long that you just stop noticing it. Occasionally you’ll catch a glimpse and, “Wow! I really dig that painting.” But a lot of times you just pass by it. For me it had become that sort of thing for a while. After between the pandemic stuff and all the crazy health stuff last year, and all of it, at some point I was like, “Wait a minute, for me this is the foundation of everything. Why am I not paying more attention to this painting?” When I do, going back to the nutrient-dense stuff, look at what happens and look at how quickly it happens and look at relatively how easy it happens. Yeah, that’s been a big part of reevaluating what’s in that pack. It’s like, oh yeah, no, this should be a more front and center kind of note in the equation. 

Andrew : I think it’s tough with that stuff because it’s such a community practice. I mean, I know you don’t have a local community and same for me. I mean, I have godkids, but the community here in Toronto is very splintered and not very cohesive and very, lots of politics and whatever, so it’s pretty complicated. My actual elders are in Miami. It’s like, number one, can’t go there at all right now, but number two, it’s very different than if I were to be living where those people were and to be able to have that regular community thing. But here it’s like, what’s the thing that’s happening? Nothing, or a thing that I make up to make happen, which feels like a waste of time.

Fabeku : Well, I mean, that is an interesting thing because a few weeks ago, there are some big ceremonies for the Orisha stuff. It took me three months just to figure out how to make it happen. It was just me. I mean, it was just me in the house doing this stuff, which is obviously suboptimal and the stuff needed to happen. But just even the logistics of stuff, trying to get what I needed and to make it happen, it felt like some Mission Impossible movie. It was wild. Yeah. Doing the ceremonies and things by myself in the house was like, yeah, this is a really surreal way, and again, needed to be done. But yeah, and so I think that’s the other piece I have been thinking about more again, that communal aspect of it which to me just obviously feels heightened with all the isolation stuff that’s going on right now. 

Andrew : Yeah. For sure. Yeah, it’s complicated. It does highlight for me how the rest of the… because I have like two practices. I have my religious practice, which is only for people who are engaged in that, and then I have my practice of what I do with clients which is spirit-driven but not Orisha stuff. Because from my point of view, if you’re not in the Orisha tradition or in a Orisha tradition, then I’m just like then I’m not going to do anything along that line. It comes with, from my point of view, an obligation and the need for an openness to long-term relationships and other things that lots of people aren’t looking for when they’re looking for magic. They’re just like, “I need your help getting this job. I need you to make this court case go away. I need you to whatever.” That’s fine, but I’m just never going to take that to the Orishas. 

But I think that what happens is because the client-facing stuff is so active and ongoing, it takes over the space, you know what I mean? It’s not that I even engage much of that for myself because I don’t really, mostly I just work Orisha stuff. But yeah, it just consumes the attention, and it reminds me a bit of the conversation I had and why I moved away from paying attention to astrology as well. I talked about this with [inaudible 00:25:06] in an episode, I don’t know when maybe last year, look it up if you want to hear my longer reasons for moving away from astrology. But the short note is, I found that it was taking up my attention in a way that was diverting me from the core practice that is the actual relevant core practice for me. 

Fabeku : Yeah, absolutely.


Fabeku : Hey folks. I just want to jump in here for a second and Remind people that The Hermit Lamp is also a store. So I have an online store and an in-person store in Toronto that sells over 400 Tarot Decks 300 kinds of crystals and incense, incense holders, candles, oils, and all the magical goodies you might want for whatever spiritual practice you were up to. I think we have great prices on stuff. Everything is sourced to the best of my ability to be authentic, and we offer pickup or in store shopping when it’s not COVID in Toronto and we offer delivery just about anywhere in the world. So do me a favor next time. You’re thinking about stuff drop by thehermitslamp.com. Check it out. See if we’ve got something you need there, because I always appreciate that support.y.


Aidan : Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I did this process that I started a couple of years ago, but I actually completed it, oh I don’t know, maybe three months ago. I have one piece of magical kind of stuff, which is just a pendant that I have from the late 80s, but I got rid of everything else, materialized, statues, icons, my skulls, all of that stuff is gone. I have nothing, I have no material basically. I have no kind of support staff. It was very good to do that because it cleared so much of the air is what I would say, but it also dropped me back into a really interesting thing, which is for me, my shift has been like, okay, the things that I know work for me are rooted in Buddhist psychology and that’s where I’ve switched my focus. It’s like, okay, let’s go back and separate from wherever you looked at that stuff before. Let’s start again. Let’s begin the meditation practice there again. Let’s just actually run that as it’s more or less designed rather than me messing with it as much as I have in the past. 

It’s been a very, everything on my end gets quieter and quieter. Even just thinking about those kind of basic precepts of like, okay, I know that the things that I can control are my thoughts, words, and deeds. Do I want to say what I’m typing right now? Is there a benefit there? Is that skillfully used? 

Andrew : I know you’ve also stepped back from being on social media as much and all of those kinds of things too. It sounds like you’ve slid more into a hermit kind of energy than whatever we would call where you were at before. 

Aidan : Definitely. Yeah, that was a big shift that became possible after I stopped making the jewelry. Yeah, I do keep an eye on the Six Ways group and all of that, but I’m ever more offline I would say, continuously pushing that. It’s like, okay, how little do I have to be online to do what I need to do there? Being that it’s just me and my wife and the cat at this point here, there’s not a lot to do other than that. It opens up that space to just go, okay, what’s going on in my head, what’s going on in my heart. Am I cool with those things? Do they need attention? What parts of those things need attention? Yeah, trying to find a way that’s way less overt, which is really throwing me back to pre 2011 when I rejoined the magical community. 

Andrew : Yeah. I think that attention on what’s going on inside is so important. A few people had recommended somatic work and I had really interesting, so one I started working with a local practitioner that a friend of mine knew and that’s been very interesting and very beneficial. Two, I was noticing that I was having these huge bodily reactions to what was going on, “Oh my God, we’re going to be locked down again.” My whole body would just be like, “Fuck.” I was talking about it and peer counseling about it and getting support and whatever, but there’s this other level of reaction that was happening. Please don’t take any of this as testimonial or recommendations that you should go do herbal things. Please contact your doctor and blah, blah, blah, full disclaimers here. Okay folks, do your research. I am not a medical professional. 

But a friend of mine was talking about ashwagandha and he was talking about… because we were talking about trying to fix my janky sleep, and my sleep was super janky for a lot of this time. At their recommendation I picked up a product that had a bunch of different stuff in it. The idea with this is you take it for a month and then you stop or whatever, consult your health professional. But it’s definitely a thing where you don’t, it’s not like taking vitamin C which maybe you want to do forever, it’s something else. I did the cycle of this and what I noticed in conjunction with, because I also started the somatic work during this time. What I noticed is that my bodily reactions to stuff were completely different. Instead of getting all jazzed up and freaked out and I can’t sleep, and I can’t sit still, and I’m just like, “So much stress. I’ve got to do something about these things that I can’t do anything about. I’ve just got to look at them and wait and see what happens.” 

I noticed that it just leveled all of that right out. Didn’t really fix the sleep, although the sleep got better when I stopped, which may be related or may be not, hard to say. Now I’m probably, I don’t know, six to eight weeks on the other side of that. Even though all sorts of super stressful stuff is going on right now, the stress of it is completely different and the bodily reaction to it is quite different. I think that that, learning ways and revisiting ways of sitting with the body and sitting with what’s going on and so on is just super helpful. I think that, for a lot of people, I think there’s this point at which we can keep talking about stuff, but so what? We could talk about it endlessly, not for everybody. People do need to digest things and so on. But there comes a point and it’s like, okay, well what next? How do we move forward with this? 

I’m pretty damn clear about all my issues, my baggage, my history, and all those kinds of pieces. There isn’t a lot of value that comes from continuously revisiting that territory anymore. It was very interesting to have such a profound experience in a completely different approach, so yeah. 

Fabeku : For me, that all makes a ton of sense. I think it was in early January. I reached out and did some online therapy stuff for a second because, again, I was having really intense stress response body reaction stuff. Every day I just felt like I am about to snap, like I am going to snap in two if this shit keeps up. For me, the conventional therapy thing was not super helpful because, again, talking about it was not what I needed. At one point I was talking to the therapist I said, “Listen, this is a body thing I’m talking about. This is not a cognitive thing.” I’m like, “Oh wait, shit, I’m doing the wrong thing.” That’s when I jumped into some somatic stuff, which helped a ton. The other big piece for me is it was all of this pending ritual work stuff, the Orisha stuff that needed to be done. Because I woke up the next morning after that and felt 80% better. 

At first I thought, “Oh, well, listen, I’m just relieved that I got it done because it took forever to coordinate and it was just a lot to do and it must be that.” But since then I’ve consistently felt way better, way, way better. It was immediate. I mean, it was, I feel like the somatic stuff knocked it down a couple of notches so that I didn’t completely fracture into pieces, but that ceremony piece it was instantaneous for me. 

Andrew : Well, I mean, the thing for me that makes total sense of about that. Because definitely I had a reading with my elder that set a different tone for me as well around a lot of stuff. I think that one of the things that is deeply true of my experience and maybe yours too is, when you’re a priest in these traditions, because the Orishas are not external things. They truly live within you in a way that non-initiates, from my understanding, it just isn’t that case. When I got my reading and it came blessings at the foot of Shango who was the crown, my crown. Shango’s exuberance and happiness and joyfulness about the things that we were talking about and their optimism about things that were coming my way were palpable. I literally found myself dancing around and singing to them and feeling that energy and just being consumed by that in a way that, one, I’m not sure how often I’ve actually had that direct an experience of it before. 

Some of that I think comes from, this summer I’ll have like 13 years of [inaudible 00:35:47]. It settles in. They settle in over time. Part of it’s just maybe situational too. But it’s like, I’ve had that experience during ritual, I’ve had that experience in my ceremonial days. I had experience of that where I was like, would call up whatever and have a full, direct experience of it and whatever. But it never endured in the way in which this has endured. I think that there’s that fundamental difference about this particular set of traditions and how that stuff works and what happens through initiation that can’t be replicated elsewhere. It doesn’t really have a place. At least in my understanding, and my experience is it’s not present in ceremonial work and other kinds of stuff because it’s just a fundamentally different approach and set of ideas and technology, if you prefer. 

Fabeku : Yeah, agreed. 

Aidan : Yeah. It was interesting. I had a chat with a young woman who’s involved in 21 Divisions, Dominican side of the voodoo thing. It was interesting talking to her because it reflected so much of what you guys are talking about. There is this level of presence there that I think is, as you said, lacking in a lot of the more Western ceremonial approaches and things like that. It was interesting because it’s like though I’ve had touches of that sense of things, it was just really beautiful talking to her because it was so palpable on her. It was like, it was a good reminder, yeah. There’s so many different levels to all of this stuff. There’s a sense that they are more mashed in a way than they are. 

There’s that old saying that was really, I think only really talking about the Abrahamic [inaudible 00:38:10] when it was created. But they were saying all kind of religious practices lead to the same thing and I really don’t find that to be true. I definitely don’t find it about magical practices either. It’s interesting hearing you guys talk about that because I just talked to her a couple of days ago and that was a good thing that came off of it. To me it was like, no, her experience of what’s going on is very different than mine and most of the folks that I’ve talked to in-depth that are outside of those traditions. 

Andrew : Yeah. Well, I think that that expression, that idea that everything runs to the same place. I mean, I think that that’s just ultimately colonial bunk. Somebody was writing a article, I don’t know. Some journalists reached out to me to ask me to fact check some stuff that they were doing. They were like, one of the things was like, Tarot is the story of the Hero’s Journey. I’m like, well, no. Possibly, sure, that can be a thing. But also, you should look at the Hero’s Journey and understand that that is a colonialist idea that lots of people like and there are interesting pieces to it, the idea of the Hero’s Journey. But the idea of the Hero’s Journey is universal is not true. It’s fundamentally just a colonialist overlay of, we’re going to make everything one instead of actually recognizing things for what they are. I think, yeah, it’s really problematic. I think that there are lots of ways in which we see that stuff and I see that stuff all the time on many levels all over the place in [inaudible 00:40:03] stuff, in new age stuff, in crystal communities and whatever. 

It’s like, why do we feel like we need to have a singular true story that unites across all human experience, instead of just saying, “Let’s just be really present and see what’s actually going on here.” Then if there is some semblance of universality, it’s probably not that there’s a singular story, but that there are related things that one deals with that are not the same like Ori and Orisha stuff, the Orisha of destiny or the sense of your destiny or your own personal Orisha is not the same as your holy guardian angel if you’re doing ceremonial stuff. Are they similar? Is that experience relatable? Might there be overlap in some way? Possibly. But it’s not singular.

Aidan : Yeah, go ahead. 

Fabeku : Agreed. I think that it’s a thing that I’ve seen a lot and it’s the thing I did I think in the beginning when I was plugging into the Orisha stuff in the whatever late ’90s. You see people say, “Oh, well, Oshun is the [inaudible 00:41:22] above Venus. Well, she’s not. That’s not real. Are there other qualities on some level that she shares? Sure. And there’s a ton of ways that she’s super different. I think what happens, again, there’s the colonial stuff that is entirely sideways. When people land on those ideas, then suddenly they miss all of the things that aren’t true from that perspective. If you say Oshun is Venus and you have a sense of Venus, and then suddenly you just swap them out as being synonymous, then there’s entire aspects of Oshun or any of the Orisha or any spirit period that you just miss, and you don’t understand. 

It becomes invisible because we’ve come up with this idea that, oh, Venus is  Oshuna is Aphrodite is whoever. It’s like, come on, really? I get it, again, I mean, I think that’s the thing that I drug into my early participation with Orisha stuff. I had to realize, “Oh no, this isn’t real what I’m saying. This is not true.” I think it felt like a convenient way for me to have some illusion of understanding, but I wasn’t understanding it. It was the opposite. I was misunderstanding what was actually happening. For me there was a lot of just checking that stuff and dropping it because it wasn’t true and it wasn’t helpful.  

Aidan : Yeah. I see that in even… I mean, the place that I probably see it the most is, and again, I don’t consider myself even a Buddhist though I find it incredibly useful. I see a lot of that in the magical and Western takes on Buddhism. That it’s not this thing that you think it is. You’re not looking at the nuances here and you’re not separating out the kind of language issues, like, all of us that come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds have a very different concept of suffering than I think what is present in Buddhism overall. If we don’t look at that and go, “What are they really talking about here?” If we take it on a surface level, misapprehensions of karma. Because again, we’re coming from a particular base view, even if it’s not one that we hold close to our heart. It’s still what we were raised in.

It’s very fascinating to see that among people who are generally extremely well-read in the kind of magical and pagan world. I tend to find that this is a group that reads extensively, but that there’s a lot of that nuance aspects that get lost. Even one of the things that I realized after talking to that woman the other day that was involved in the 21 Divisions that I learned from somebody whose background was in [inaudible 00:44:30] actually, a woman that I knew when I was in my early 20s. What she said is that she was involved in lots of stuff, but her perception was that there are classes of beings that operate in similar zones. This is where I think I came up with that idea that if we look at the whole thing, the whole field, the whole universe, then yeah. There’s like, sure, you have things that are related to crossroads and road opening and gatekeeping and blocks and all of that stuff. But to think that they’re all the same is just bizarre. It’s like, “No.” It’s like thinking that all of the cells in your body that are related to your immune system are the same. Why would that be? It doesn’t even make sense. Yeah. It’s fascinating. 

Fabeku : Well, and the language piece is a good point too because, I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I’ve been reading some of the divinatory texts from [inaudible 00:45:34] practice. I mean, just the Yoruba language in itself that even when things are translated accurately, it’s like there’s a, how do I say this? The word means something different in that cultural context than it means to somebody outside of that cultural context. I think that’s a thing that’s easy to get lost. When the Buddhists are talking about karma or suffering, like you said, and I’ve got an image of suffering, I read suffering and think, “Oh, okay, that means this, so the Buddhist are saying this about suffering.” But are they really? Are they really saying that about suffering or is my under… it’s almost like, instead of the actual transmission, we’re embracing an echo of an echo of an echo kind of a thing. 

Naturally over time, the clarity and the strength of that starts to fall apart. But then if we don’t get that, then we start to cohere around this idea of, “Oh, well, in Buddhism suffering means this.” Then we’re just off in some weird sideways direction. That’s the thing that I’ve realized, that somebody that was not born in Yoruba culture, there’s words and ideas I’m never going to understand ever that are a part of that tradition. I mean, I can ask people from that culture, I can work to unpack my own [inaudible 00:47:00] bullshit around it, but there’s some stuff that I’m just never going to have that understanding of because I just come from a different background, different perception. I think that knowing that feels pretty important, whether you’re reading Buddhist stuff or Yoruba stuff or anything. 

Aidan : Absolutely.

Andrew : I think there’s an expression which I love, which is, 10 minutes with a wise person is worth more than reading 100 books. I think there’s something about that direct actual transmission, that communication that comes, and especially where it’s particular to you as opposed to just listening. I’m not talking about listening to somebody’s TED Talk or YouTube video or whatever. I’m talking about actually having a wise person, or an elder, or a monk, or whatever, put their attention on you for that period of time. I think that we could further embellish that and say, it’s worth more than 100 books, it’s worth more than 1,000 TikToks, it’s worth more than whatever. Because the amount of other stuff that it takes to hit that point where it can disrupt that notion that we have of like, “Oh yeah, yeah, this is this.” They’re like, “Well, not really actually. It’s more like this and this and this.” 

It’s like, oh, cool. But it’s super hard to, sorry for the raucous, super hard to hit that in other means. It’s one of the reasons why I’m not interested in doing short form podcast. I think that the conversations in the podcast take time to develop and I think that if we were to be like, I might be more popular and have more listeners if I did a 20-minute podcast because people could just consume them, and consume them, and consume them, and that’s fine what it is. But I’m like, I want to get to the core of things. I want to really dig in and… Waiting for the truck to pass, I know you guys can hear that. The window is open. It’s hot here in Toronto today and there’s a busy street. But yeah, just making space for that. I think it’s just so important. I think that, like Aidan you were doing where you’re slowing down and listening to your body, your mind, your heart, your spirit, and all those things. 

I think that in some ways, that’s what I think that we need more of in the spirit world, in the spiritual communities in general, and it’s contrary to the way in which social media is going to some extent and so on, or parts of social media. But I think that it’s what’s important. I think it’s what actually makes a difference to people’s lives. 

Fabeku : Well, to me one of the pieces that’s missing in the Instagram post, or the book, or the TikTok or whatever is the conversation. I think that’s the piece with the elder, the teacher, whoever it is that becomes super important because you can… I think that’s where you get, like you said, that individualized specific to you dialogue that, if I’m talking to a Buddhist teacher and I say, “Oh, well, suffering means this,” and they say, “Well, not really.” Then we can have a back and forth. I think in that back and forth, that’s where things unknot themselves, and that’s where things start to settle in and you start to have a more felt sense of it instead of this weird, exclusively cognitive, “Oh, this is a chunk of information that I picked up on Instagram, or in a book, or on YouTube, or whatever. 

All of that’s fine, but I think that if it’s not balanced and probably founded on some kind of actual living conversation with somebody that’s immersed in whatever it is you’re learning, whether it’s Buddhist stuff or [inaudible 00:51:04] practice, or sigil magic, or whatever it is. I don’t know. I think it turns into something different when that somebody’s experience, when that conversation’s missing. 

Andrew : Yeah, I think in the episode with Jason Miller that came out as part of this spring season of episodes, we talked about Personal Gnosis. I think that, and I hadn’t really thought about it this way until this conversation, but it might be worth considering that anything that isn’t attached to tradition is probably just Personal Gnosis. That might be really great, it might be useful. Go listen to the episode with Jason Miller, we talked about finding validation and what we might do, and when we might share those things and all kinds of stuff, and it’s not that like Aidan’s work, which comes from a personal experience and through the books and so on, and has a really great and powerful application to people who are drawn to working in those ways. It’s great. 

But I think that a lot of people think because they can read some books, and I thought this too. My work with [inaudible 00:52:25] magic, I would register it as Personal Gnosis now. I didn’t at the time. I thought I was tapping into the true universe or whatever. In some ways I think that I did, and in some ways I talked to people and shared experiences around those, and so much point to that deeper level. But I think that there’s a lot of stuff where people, and myself historically too at times, mistake that personal experience for being universal and inherently true. I think that things that are more replicable, things that are tied to tradition and so on are much more likely to be universally true or universally appliable versus these personal experiences, which we really need to scrutinize on some level. I think that we benefit from scrutinizing that before we share them and put them out there and stuff like that. I think that’s part of what we’re maybe not seeing as much of that I would like to see more of is that kind of reflection and understanding. 

Aidan : Yeah. 100%. I think it’s interesting. I mean, definitely I was talking to somebody, I don’t remember who, recently that was part of what really informs particularly Six Ways. But for me it was this realization that the vast majority of folks that I knew who were struggling were the folks that weren’t drawn to a tradition, which makes sense to me because I had that same experience. I’ll get periodic people sending me hate mail because they think I’m anti-tradition. It’s like, no, I’m just not [inaudible 00:54:20]. I was speaking to the folks that are also not [inaudible 00:54:24]. It’s not that I don’t think that that’s incredibly potent and powerful. 

Fabeku : Obviously, and I hope it doesn’t come across this way to folks who are listening because Aidan and I know each other so it’s a non-issue between us. But for folks listening, I’m not saying you need to be in a tradition to do stuff. I’m just saying that in the absence of tradition, the onus to be more conscious of what you’re and how you’re thinking about it and to maybe test or look for proof or whatever is probably a lot higher maybe [crosstalk 00:55:01]-

Aidan : Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s what led me out of most of my group practice was either around [inaudible 00:55:08] some witchcraft groups and then chaos magic groups. That’s really what left me out of that was like we so don’t even have a same base level language. Trying to do this kind of intense group work on levels that I was interested in just didn’t make sense to me anymore. It’s like, no I’m better off taking this home where I can really interrogate what’s going on and then seek out people that I know that I can bounce stuff off of if things get wonky or if I’m not sure what’s up, who knew me well enough to be able to read me. These were folks that I would nowadays we would probably say are fairly clairvoyant practitioners. 

There were two of them in my life who I could kind of go in and go, “Things are weird,” and they could read me enough to not even need to necessarily know what specifically I had done, but go, “Yeah, you’ve got some stuff that’s a little janky here. These are the places to go look.” It allowed me to sort it out. Yeah, it’s very interesting. I’ve been thinking a lot about the tradition aspects. Really reading, again, the Buddhist stuff, because looking at the folks that from the West who connected to teachers in the East, in the ’60s, ’70s, whatever first wave in Nepal, Tibet kind of stuff, post-Tibet I guess, Kathmandu. What their experience was if you look at, if they ever talk about it, where you go, no, these folks moved into the hut and hung out for seven years without TV, or radio, or running water, or bathrooms, or any of that stuff and got to be fully immersed. 

That’s really the last crew they got. That version wasn’t as available on that tight of a level. I was reading from something from [inaudible 00:57:08], who I think when he found his first kind of teacher I think he says that it was like less than five or six people there for the first several years from the last. They really got that immersion into getting stuff sorted and I think that that’s the hard thing if you’re working on your own entirely or if you’re working with other groups that don’t have deep history is that you really have to figure out how to sort yourself constantly. Because we do tend to make up stories, it’s what the brain does, it’s what the mind does it goes, “Oh, this means this then.” Understanding that that’s not necessarily going to be accurate and keeping that at the forefront, to me is the really big part of being a solo or small group practitioner for someone who doesn’t have that kind of history and that kind of support system built into it. 

Fabeku : One of the ways that I’ve started to look at the differences between, because for me I went from chaos magic to [inaudible 00:58:20] practice. I mean, it was the extreme ends of things. I think that when you’re a part of a tradition, you have the benefit of almost like so there’s two people that are trying to navigate through the forest. On the traditional end of things, there’s a path that’s been created that enough people have traveled that you know it will get you from one end of the forest to another. I think for the people that aren’t, like they have to break out their machete and carve their own path. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other, they’re just different. I think that it’s kind of, I think those people that dig taking machetes and hacking their way through the forest, which is awesome if that’s your thing. There’s other people that find, “Oh no, this path is here. Let me just walk it.” 

I think the mistake that I made in my own relationship to tradition is at some point I started to equate an established path with a lack of freedom. I started talking about, well, the reason I diverged from some of this stuff and held some of this stuff a little more loosely than I had before was because I somehow thought that it meant I didn’t have the freedom. I can hack my way through the forest anytime I want. There’s nothing stopping me from doing that. There’s another option. There’s another path that’s available if that’s not interesting to me. For me that was an important realization because I think I had a really… at some point I just got sideways within myself about what tradition means and what it doesn’t mean. Again, going back to the idea of language, I think I just had some weird distortion around that I think I held for longer than was helpful or that made sense or was really true.

Andrew : I think it’s very difficult for a lot of people to, I mean, as some people in the tradition would say, submit to the Orishas. To put aside the sort of tension and thing, because it’s like… I don’t think of it so much as a lack of freedom, but as for me it’s a path that’s deeply aligned with who I am. I might have ideas about who I am that aren’t true, or aren’t in alignment with that. But for me, I’m like, why wrestle with that? Why hold on to my baggage, my issues, my personal things in the face of advice and possibilities that are more deeply true about who I am. I think that the path of going down the Orisha road for me has been one of, and which is part of its core belief. This alignment with who you are, this alignment with your Ori and your destiny. 

For me it’s like, I have freedom to do all sorts of stuff. In many ways I have, I mean like all three of us in some ways. The three of us collectively I think have more freedom than many people even have access to by virtue of being self-employed in certain ways, by virtue of other opportunities and so on. The capacity to do many things is probably closer in reach for us than it is for many people. But for me I’m just like, life’s going to have obstacles either way. Things are going to come up, a pandemic happens, this happens, that happens, other things happen. I’m like, I’d rather just save my energy for wrestling with those challenges. I guess it’s ultimately a matter of faith, but my faith is that the Orishas keep me on that easier path and it leaves not having to navigate all those theoretical possibilities. Leaves me that energy to show up more fully to deal with the things that come up along the way and all those kinds of things. 

For me, it actually feels like liberation maybe is a good word for it or freedom, but the focus of it is so different. But I think it’s so easy, especially for Western folks, and especially for people coming out of magic where the ego and the will can be very central to a lot of conversations. I don’t mean that as criticism per se, although I think there are lots of ways in which we need to be suspect around those things. The idea that they can do it independently, they can do this, they can do that, and so on needs to be put aside and it’s not easy for people. 

Fabeku : Well, I agree completely. At one point when I was working my way through this stuff I realized, I mean, in theory I have the freedom to drive down the wrong lane on the highway if I want to. But at some point, is that smart? Is it helpful? Is it going to end well? Maybe when I was 20 I was more hip to that idea, but at 46 that’s a little less interesting to me. Instead I value also knowing that I can just take the road from point A to point B and I know I’m going to get to point B without a weird head on collision or something sideways happening.

Andrew : The ensuing police chase. 

Fabeku : Yeah. I had a lot of weird stuff around that, that I realized was just all my own that really had nothing to do with what was actually going on in the tradition or coherent relationship to it. It was just like, oh, this is not real shit that I’ve foisted on this idea of tradition. 

Aidan : Yeah, I know for me it’s like, I think that all of that stuff came out because of very bad experiences as a young person around the religions as they were practiced around me, which was all Christian. It took me a long time to drop that stuff and realize that even where there was incredibly bad behavior, that was the people that were involved. It wasn’t the nature of the religion. It’s like in the United States there’s a big issue with people believing that Islam is all specifically terror, which is clearly not true if you’ve ever hung out with anybody who’s Muslim [inaudible 01:05:20]. It’s the same as anything else. For me it was, I think I took on the idea that guidance and being controlled were the same thing. I think I always wanted a good guide but I was really afraid of being controlled. 

I think that’s probably what sends me back to Buddhism over and over again, is I can hear that voice, for whatever reason, very clearly as guidance like, “We know how this works. If you would like to have some help with running this program that gets you from point A to point B, like you were saying, we can do that.” It’s interesting that that’s one of the few places where I have no desire to try and make up my own path. It’s like, I see it, it makes sense. I understand it to the degree that I understand it. It’s very easy for me to hook my cart up to that horse and go, “Okay, the horse knows where it’s going. I don’t have to try and figure this out. I just have to feed the horse and we’ll be good.” 

Andrew : Yeah. It makes a ton of sense. Well, maybe that’s a good place to end it. Find your path, feed your horse folks. 

Aidan : Yeah. Find a good horse. 

Andrew : Find a good horse, hang out with it. Take good care of it, it’ll take good care of you. 

Aidan : Totally. 

Andrew : Yeah. For folks who are listening who want to hang out in your spheres, where’s a good place for people to come hang out with you? Aidan, where should people check in if they want to partake of your wonderful offerings and things? 

Aidan : Aiden.com has links to everything else, but I’m on Instagram, lightly Facebook, lightly accepted. There’s a Six Ways group that is folks dealing with my work that I try and chime in when I have something useful to say, but it’s mostly really for the folks that are doing the work. Then I’m on Twitter, also pretty lightly. But everything can be found through my website at aidan.com. 

Andrew : Nice. Yeah, if you are on Facebook and you’re working through Aidan’s books, I would really recommend spending some time in the group mentioned, Six Ways. It’s a great space and it’s really well-run, so it’s definitely a good spot to hang out if you’re engaged in that stuff. Yeah. How about you, Fabeku? 

Fabeku : Fabeku.com. I’m on Facebook and I’m [inaudible 01:08:10] very lightly on Instagram. 

Andrew : Very lightly. I’m all in on Instagram. I love Instagram. If folks want to actually engage with me through social media, get on my Instagram, it’s just, @thehermitslamp on… I’m @thehermitslamp everywhere. But yeah, Facebook and whatever, I’m on all those places, but less so, but Instagram is my true love. I think that, that conjunction of imagery and words is just so ideal for me. Although we’ll see if the extending introduction of video ruins it forever. Of course you can check me at thehermitslamp.com for my store. I’ve got all the magical goodies you might want and ship them everywhere. If you’re listening, we can hook you up with all sorts of great stuff and for all the other stuff I do, it’s there too. All right, thanks for listening everybody. Thank you for making time to chat with me today folks. I appreciate getting the band back together as always. 

Fabeku : Good. Thanks for having us-

Aidan : Always. Total pleasure.

<Outro Music>

Andrew : Thank you as always for listening my friends. Uh, I want to just take a moment here and say, please do what you can to support the podcasts. All right. I mentioned in the beginning of it, the various ways in which you can provide some financial support, but I understand that this is also tough times for lots of folks and, you know, I, I get it. My story has been close to the public for the most of this year, which is kind of hard to, hard to understand and wrangle with. So the other things that you can do to support this are rate us in your podcasts location, share it with other people, you know, on your socials, or just tell people about it. Uh, you know, it’s very hard these days to make inroads on social media, without paying for advertising.

So that word of mouth stuff is really great for the ongoing success of the podcast. And of course, if there’s anybody you’d like to see on the podcast, well, listen to on the podcast, um, drop me a line and let me know. Okay. But please do keep in mind that I never accept self-referrals so I’m sure you’re wonderful. I’m sure you’re doing great stuff, but referring yourself doesn’t it doesn’t happen that way. All right. Uh, I’ll be back with two more episodes in the coming weeks. As we wrap up the six episodes spring season of the podcast, have a great day, stay safe out there.

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