For this – the final episode of the podcast Andrew and Lon get back together after 10 years to catch up. They talk about the times in which we live and how to find your way in them. They also talk about the western idea of finding your true will or destiny. As always with Lon it is a joyful conversation full of hope and realism.
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Andrew : Hey folks, welcome to episode 126 of the podcast. I’d hope to do a extra episode for this fall season, but I am finding that the obligations of, parenting that have greatly increased in the last while for me, along with the demands and struggles of keeping a retail store open during the ongoing COVID struggles are taking more of my time and attention, and it’s just got to come from somewhere. And the podcast is the, one of the things that can come off of my schedule. I’ve really enjoyed all of these conversations, and I’m feeling called towards, doing something new, something that will maybe be a little more artsy and magically orientated. I’m going to let that gestate and really focus on the practical side of things for the time being, I hope that you have enjoyed these episodes.
It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been 10 years, almost 11 years really now. It’s kinda nice to wrap up with one of the first people who was on the podcast when I started out so long ago, today’s episode with Lon Milo DuQuette. So stay tuned for what’s next. Thank you to everybody who’s been a part of it and it is a real pleasure. I will, of course, leave these episodes up and I hope that people will continue to share them, enjoy them and get something from them. Stay tuned for what’s next.
Andrew: Welcome to another episode of the Hermit’s Lamp Podcast, I am here with Lon Milo Duquete. I looked back as Lon was one of my first guests, the podcast started back in 2011 and I started the podcast with the question: Why do some people change and why do some people not change? I thought why not go ask a bunch of people who had been out trying to help people change themselves, you know that question, and see where it went. So it’s been quite a while since I caught up with Lon here, and I really thought that, you know, number one they continue to be active and do all sorts of great stuff on the internet and so on and I thought, let’s just catch up and see. Maybe for some people this is their introduction to you, Lon. Who are you, what are you up to, what are you about?
Lon: The older I get the less I know the answer to that, or can even guess. I am just an aging hippie, but I’m a writer; a song writer and a book writer and things like that and I guess you could call me an occultist or a magickian and that’s just about it. I’m 73 years old and still just trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. At the moment I write and lecture and talk in the world about ceremonial magick and tarot and Kabbalah and things like that, and in my private world I try to apply some of that knowledge and information toward my own spiritual growth, if you want to call it that, or toward my own process of awakening. And like I say, the older I get the less I know. (laughs)
Andrew: Well, I think that, I know for myself when I first started out in ceremonial magick and stuff, I discovered Crowley, you know when I was about 12 years old and I was like yeah, this is the stuff right? And you know, that idea that we are going to discover our true will, know what it is, and just, that’s it, then we execute it, it doesn’t quite sound like that’s the case, right? It’s certainly not been my experience of it. So I’m curious to hear what you think about that.
Lon: Well, it might not be as hard or as complex as we would have ourselves believe. Look at it this way, an artist who is really an artist, doesn’t really spend to much time thinking about why they are painting or why they are dancing or why they are writing music or sculpting, an artist doesn’t really spend much time questioning himself or herself why they do what they do, they just gotta do it, and they do it. That’s more or less what discovering your will and doing it is about. If you are taking the time constantly to think about how every move you make is part of your will, your true will, then you might already be overthinking it.
Lon: If that’s any help at all, you know I kind of compare it to the you, in the centre of consciousness that you have when you are in a dream. When you are in a dream everything seems perfectly natural, even if it’s bizarre and fantastic, it seems perfectly natural that these things are happening in the dream and you really can’t project what non-dream consciousness is about. You can’t theorize in a dream what it’s like to not be in a dream, you don’t spend time on it, you are just in the continuum of whatever the situation is or the circumstances in that dream. But it’s as simple as waking up in the morning into a brand new different kind of reality or centre of consciousness, and then you don’t question that either, okay. So spending too much time speculating on oh, as soon as I get my holy guardian angel or as soon as I open up my heart chakra I’ll be able to do this, no you’ll be a different person. That waking up makes you a different person and that different person still has a whole new set of issues and problems and challenges. (laughs) Is that making any sense to you?
Andrew: Absolutely. It reminds me a little bit of, I think it’s E. I. Lilly who said, you know about belief right, that you know, I’m going to misquote them cause I don’t remember the exact quote, but the idea that we start out with this belief, and those beliefs are meant to be explored, tested and experienced and changed into our new beliefs which are then meant to be explored and tested and so on. And that as we move forward in our journey of awakening or embodying or whatever we want to think of that thing as, it gradually, each shift changes our understanding of the landscape and yet we still brush our teeth and we still have various concerns and so on. It’s not a destination at which we arrive, it’s a process we continue to live and unfold.
Lon: Right, right. You are always you. When you are a new you you don’t feel like a new you, you continue to feel like you. So you know when it’s only when we ask ourselves, gee, would I trade places with the me that I was 5 years ago, you go hell no, I was a freakin’ idiot! And now I think I was a freakin’ idiot yesterday, I wouldn’t trade places with that either, we’re so close to ourselves as being a self observed centre of consciousness that we really don’t sense these things. You know you read about the mystical experiences of famous people that get their experiences published and you sort of get an idea of what they went through but you’re really not getting an idea of how it’s ever going to apply to you.
Andrew: Mmhm, yeah for sure right, because what did this person or that person do at this point, especially, you know, the more historically we slide backwards. How do we even think of what life was exactly like for Crowley or other people at that point in history? It’s so devoid of any context for us really now, unless we’re deeply, deeply enmeshed in being a historian and other things as well. And even then it’s not lived experience, right?
Lon: And everyone is unique, profoundly unique, so we’ve all fallen asleep in our own particular way so that means we all have to wake up in our own particular ways.
Andrew: Mmhm. Have you been finding that, I mean obviously the pandemic, we’re here November of 2021 as we’re recording. The pandemic’s been trucking along for a good while now and so on. Have you noticed with yourself or the other people you spend time with that this has shifted the way that process works for people, or has changed those things?
Lon: We’re all crazier, you know, that’s as simple as I can say it. We’re all crazier than we were before the pandemic. In a sense it’s driven us all into a state of monasticism, even if you are a person who tends to ignore the reality of the situation, nevertheless you are still affected by the reality of the situation. And this idea that we have this perpetual background meditation of isolation, from a monastic point of view, that can be a very valuable tool for personal spiritual development. But it has created sort of a version of a zombie apocalypse in the outside world that we are in that has changed all of our reality and not in a good way I think. So for us to stay sane and evolving during this time is going to be a challenge, it won’t be impossible, but it will be a challenge. And as far as totality or human consciousness is concerned, this is one of those periods of baptism of fire where it is a prelude to probably a dramatic shift of consciousness. I believe some of us will thrive and be nourished by that shift of consciousness, but probably most of us will be undone by it. And that might be even part of the characteristic of what Crowley and others saw as a shift of ages or eons. From Crowley’s point of view each of those shifts of consciousness is preceded by what in the short run looks like catastrophic events that are necessary to traumatize the overriding consciousness of the human race, human consciousness if you want to call it, look it it that way. So evolution, even physical evolution, biological evolution is a process of first of all resistance, an organism meets a blockage or a resistance or an obstacle to say, getting nourishment of some kind, and if it doesn’t figure out a way to change itself at least enough to overcome that obstacle, it will die. Those organisms that figure out a way or strengthen certain aspects of their being in order to overcome it, like in every little step of evolution, they will be the organism that survives. So it takes an obstacle, it takes resistance to create the necessity to overcome the resistance, and the act of overcoming the resistance mutates the organism into an organism that that resistance no longer impacts. So it’s obstacle, overcoming the obstacle (mutation to overcome the obstacle) and moving on. Same thing with human consciousness, and brother we’ve got an obstacle! (laughing) Right now, we either gotta mutate or we’ve gotta just say goodbye to the organism, both physical and spiritual, or we’re going to have to say goodbye to this particular vehicle that we’re in.
Andrew: Yeah I mean I think it’s definitely a colossal challenge on so many levels right? You know you started off by saying how we’ve been sort of forced into being monastic, and I was like, I hadn’t really thought about it in that way. I thought of it, you know, the isolation of it certainly, but the fact that I’ve done monastic things before, I’ve spent 10 days in the woods by myself, with Vipassana, you know there are these things but they’ve always been chosen. And I think that unchosen element of this change is such a big part of it too right, that creates so much friction because even though one never really understands what you are getting into when you make a choice to go on retreat or do other kinds of things, there is still a choice there, right, we know it. Versus it being visited upon us as life has been recently and of course you compound that with all the other tangents of social change that’s coming to the surface that needs to happen, global change, environmental change and so on right. It very much is a sort of trial time for us all right?
Lon: Right. And it’s something we all have in common, it’s just a shame that so many of us can’t wake up to the fact that we’re all in the same boat! (laughing)
Andrew: Yeah, right. And there’s the hippie, well let’s just all come together folks, we can do it if we all come together!
Lon: And it’s still true.
Andrew: Yeah, for sure. Have these times brought about change in your own practice, you know like magickally speaking or meditation or other things? Have you gone to tools around this stuff?
Lon: Um, not on purpose. (laughing) I am so lazy ok, I am truly lazy. I am so lazy that I’ve had to make my laziness my most redeeming quality. So I made no particular decision other than,ok I’m going to have to do a lot of stuff online, even my international lectures. For the last 10 years I’ve travelled extensively in Europe and the last 5 or 6 years in China and I’m sort of bringing the Western hermetic arts to a broader audience. And believe me, I didn’t set out to do it, all of this sort of dropped into my lap and so I rolled with the flow cause I’m too lazy to resist. All of that I’ve had to translate into online workshops and seminars and such, and I’m just absolutely lucky enough to have friends and colleagues that can set up the technical part of that for me because I can barely log onto our little zoom thing here today, I’m technically challenged. That has forced me to think in a different way. First of all to think that the ear that is hearing my words, English isn’t their first language, so it’s caused me to simplify how I write, how I communicate things so I can deliver the most, the clearest way to say something, sort of free from American idioms. And I have to deliver things without raising my eyebrow, there’s so much that I communicate that is not just the words I am saying, because I’m not the most eloquent orator in the world, I sort of stutter and say and uh a lot! But you can say things, you can communicate great truths in stupid akward words by raising an eyebrow, you know what I mean? And I had to completely shift gears in order to be able to deliver that to an non-English speaking audience, breaking up the phrases where I know a translator is going to have to break in and translate, it has been a real challenge but I can actually feel my brain cells rearranging themselves (laughs) in order to do that. And then I realise that what started off by me customizing my message to accommodate the ear that’s hearing it out there, it has changed my own ear, my own inner way. And I am starting to think differently myself, and for me that’s kind of a good thing because I am such an undisciplined person otherwise and I’m quite blissfully content to just go through my day not properly examining my own thoughts! (laughs) If that makes any sense to you!
Andrew: Sure, yeah!
Lon: And so it’s been a growth experience and a trauma.
Andrew: Well it’s your obstacle adaptation, right? You hit that obstacle and you had to adapt to it.
Lon: But anyway, I’ve got to remember that everybody is going through their own dramatic challenges themselves and just try the best I can to keep up a personal relationship with everybody that I come in contact with from the baristas down at the coffee shop to my own magickal colleagues and things like that. But I can’t stay that the pandemic has changed my pattern of, well I used to get up every morning and do a pentagram ritual, forget that, you know that wasn’t my routine for the last 15, 20 years anyway. But to say that my magick hasn’t been altered and amended would be a misstatement because it certainly has. But we’ll just see if all of us can survive the next few years of the global upheavals, who knows.
Andrew: Do you spend a lot of time thinking about that?
Lon: Yep, it’s like, I don’t know, it’s a strange, you know when I was a little kid I had so may bizzare thoughts when I was a little kid because I was forced to stay in the crib, I was immobilized because of a bone disease when I was young, so I could just lay in my crib and think about stuff and I was quite happy to do that. But I toyed with the idea of why am I here at this particular juncture in my reality. And then of course I went to school in the 1950’s in the United States, of course all of your teachers told you how lucky you were to live in the United States and the ministers said how blessed we are all to live in the United States because there is so much want and unhappiness in other parts of the world. And I always kept thinking why? Why am I lucky enough to live in a Father Knows Best kind of privileged white middle class…why? Why when all of these people in other parts of the world are just not so fortunate. And it’s always been at the back of my mind when I ask that question to myself that, no there’s a really good reason for this, cause this is a special time and for some reason you’ve always wanted to live through such a special time. As if I’ve lived through so many other times that weren’t special and were pretty damned dull, and grim, no this is exciting.
Andrew : 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.
Lon: You know but when I was in grade school, oh it’s really exciting because the Russians may bomb us at any minute with big nuculear, ok the world might end any minute, this is so exciting you know! (laughs) Then I’d get excited that I was waking up to what was going on, like you know in high school, I was lucky enough to be able to kind of see through the madness of what was the Vietnam War. That’s bullshit! What’s this? I’m so lucky to be here and see that’s totally bullshit! And that’s kind of how I feel right now too. Here we are, there might not be a future for mammals on earth (laughs.) I may be at the Götterdämmerung of life as a mammal on the planet and part of me is saying, yes! How exciting, where does consciousness go when it can’t live in a mammal? The whole thing is I think too big for anybody to wrap their brains around and the best we can do is to determine and be comfortably productive in what we are here to do under these circumstances. And when we start to focus in on what that is, then we are getting a glimpse of what our true will is. Then we are getting a glimpse of the job that our particular facet of consciousness is actually here to function, to fulfill its potentiality to do. And if I am so dense, and so stupid that I have to learn that lesson under these circumstances, then I probably damn well deserve it. (laughs) I deserve it, oh gee, can I learn this in a kinder, gentler way? (laughing)
Andrew: In a peaceful life, in a peaceful time just sitting in a monastery and looking at a flower, you know? Yeah at some point along the way I was having this conversation with somebody about finding their will right? And I threw out the statement, only by walking the road can you discover which star is yours. You know, and for me, I think that that idea of like, we don’t arrive at it, it doesn’t download to us complete and whole and we just enact it, it’s this showing up and this engaging and this looking at it, being aware of the conditions and working within the scope of what you have, right, and where you are at and all of those kinds of things. And in that we can discover who we really are, then we can shed that and discover who we really are again and so on. Yeah, to me that’s that constant process of staying on the road you know?
Lon: So with each new project that I involve myself in I truly find out more and more. And I don’t really know, and I’m sure not everyone is like this, but I don’t really know what I know, I don’t really believe what I believe until I am forced to explain it to someone else. Because I am too lazy and too indolent to explain it to myself, I am forced to find out what I think by explaining it to somebody else. So I reveal myself to myself by the questions that are asked of me.
Andrew: Yeah, and that’s, you know, I feel like as a person who works as a tarot reader and does a lot of card reading for people, you know, not all the questions, but often people will come with questions and I’ll be like, huh, that is a really good question. Now I need to see what the cards say, see what I say, see what spirit says and so on. And that hitting the moment where a question emerges that stretches the ability to articulate it, but which really, for me at least and I think this is what you are kind of getting at, means to actually know it, to consciously be aware of it right? Before that it’s just a potential that you could trigger a synapse somewhere and pull that out right?
Lon: Right. Well I think my whole, you know I never intended to be a writer cause I knew writing was hard, I’m lazy, I don’t want to do hard stuff. But along about 1978 or 9 because I was in charge of the lodge of OTO in Southern California, and I thought, my perceived duties as a lodge master was to have a weekly class, ok, and you know there’d be three people who’d show up, four people’d show up. As the lodge got bigger five people’d show up, six, seven and stuff. But I had to stay one week ahead of the class, ok cause I wasn’t adept at all. (laughs) But it was forty some years of that weekly class and for two years it was two nights a week, I was forced to figure out everything that I know and everything I understood by explaining it to others, in response to their questions. So I got a chapter in my book, Homemade magick I think, it’s called “If you want to learn magick, teach magick”, and that’s just what I did. When it came time, when my publisher Wiser wanted me to do a book on Kabbalah or Hermetic Kabbalah I certainly didn’t feel up to that, that’s going to be hard, I didn’t want to do anything hard! (laughs) So I was struck by classical Jewish mystical literature that used a ficititional Rabbi to tell the story and to quote and stuff. And after many years of teaching Kabbalah at my Monday night class, the class just kept getting goofier and goofier and goofier. And I was explaining things simpler and simpler and simpler through like corny jokes and set ups and stuff like that. In other words, I was shooting a humorous bullet deep into the brain of the listener, and when their brain exploded they’d go, oh god, I get that! (laughs) It’s not more complex than I thought, it’s simpler than I thought. So I decided to split myself in two and invent this fictional Rabbi, after all it’s part of…you know…
Andrew: It’s a precedent.
Lon: Yeah, so I invented this Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford to say all the outrageous things that Lon Duquete as a writer would be embarrassed saying, or at least reticent. And it worked, okay? This Rabbi I invented was wiser than I could ever be (laughs.) And I actually felt like I was apart from the wisdom coming out of this Rabbi, and just acting as Lon Duquete, just acting as his commentator or…
Andrew: Mmhm, trusted scribe or whatever.
Andrew: Mmhm. Have you ever thought about embodying that approach in any of your other work? Summon up John Dee and write another chapter in your book on Enochian work or something along those lines?
Lon: Well, you know I did a son of Chicken Qabalah , where actually the Rabbi was an initiatory officer of a third degree Qabalah order, so I did that, but I haven’t yet presumed to jump into John Dee or anybody else, but it’s something to think about. Lately I’m anxious to jump out of myself and go someplace else for a while! (laughs) But anyway, I may have to incarnate to do that (laughs.) But I don’t know if I can reincarnate as a mammal!
Andrew: Well that’s the question, right? I don’t know, you could pull that beard off on a fish, you know? Brand new bearded fish species right? (laughs) With the eyebrows so you can raise the eyebrow when you are trying to communicate something!
Lon: Well it would probably be an insect if it’s going to be on this planet!
Andrew: Fair enough, yeah. So what else have you got coming down the line that you are working on, that you could share about?
Lon: I’ve got two new, pretty heroic Chinese lecture series coming up that I’ve got to gear up to and create. The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick, my tarot deck, recently got redone with another publisher, it’s already gone through two complete printings and I’m sort of tweaking it for the third edition of that coming up. My book, Homemade Magick, which was originally published by Llewellyn is now seeing a second revised edition, that’s coming out very soon.
Andrew: See, you don’t sound like a lazy person when you talk about it this way!
Lon: No, but just ask my wife, I’m a lazy sloth! And what else, oh I’m constantly writing introductions to other people’s works and I really enjoy doing that because obviously I wasn’t formed in a vacuum, I was influenced by brilliant works of others. I’ve been lucky enough when those classic works get reprinted to be asked to introduce and write those. And I guess my latest book book is called Allow Me to Introduce, from Wiser, and that is a collection of 35 years of my introductions to other people’s works, which are actually in my opinion, my best work because it’s the best stuff I’ve ever written that nobody ever reads. So I’ve put ’em right all together in one book and that’s been doing ok. And what else, oh the big Llewellyn Book of Ceremonial Magick that David Shoemaker and I edited and I curated has won all sorts of awards and stuff like that. As far as my musical career is going, obviously I haven’t had a concert since the pandemic, I haven’t travelled anywhere to set that up. My favourite club in New York City, after 60, 70 years finally closed down, Caffe Vivaldi, broke my heart. But up here in Sacramento there’s a little bookstore called the East Village Bookshop and I’m going to do a talk on tarot in December there, and when they started googling around they discovered that I was a songwriter too and so I’m going to have to play a couple of songs there. But that’s been my only public appearance!
Andrew: Tarot and music, two things that go great together!
Lon: Yeah, tarot, music and magick. So that’s happening, otherwise we’re having a great deal of trouble with our new home here in Sacramento, it’s not making us happy.
Andrew: Hmm, I’m sorry to hear that.
Lon: Well it might have been that way most any place we would have moved after being used to the same place for 22 years you know? But there’s a lot of stresses where that’s concerned but we’re trying to make the best of it.
Andrew: Mmhm, well I hope they smooth out and you find your way through them swiftly.
Lon: Oh, thank you, thank you.
Andrew: Well, we’re kind of at the end of our time here, even though I could continue to chat with you indefinitely. But where, you’re on Facebook, are there other places that people should come and check you out as well? I’ll put the links in the show notes.
Lon: Okay, my Facebook page is the closest thing I’ve got to a blog. Ever since the pandemic, so we’re pushing almost two years now, every morning at 10 o’clock I do a live reading, or a live babel, or whatever, I appear live everyday on Facebook at ,10 o’clock and they stay on Facebook forever and somebody actually puts them on YouTube, so I’ve read section by section, every book I’ve ever written on Facebook.
Lon: So people might get a kick out of tuning in on that and I put stuff up four or five times a day on Facebook because it’s my way of trying to connect with an audience. But otherwise all my books are on Barnes and Noble and Amazon, just google Lon Milo Duquete.
Andrew: I carry all the ones that are on print at my shop here in Toronto, pretty much.
Lon: Oh, thank you so much! Now a few of my books have gone into several editions and if our people listening here happen to go to Amazon and see a book for sale for $700, google around a little more, the new editions sell for $12 you know! (laughing)
Andrew: Sure! Pretty much everything’s in print so you don’t need to drop your month’s rent to get The Magick of Thelema, you can get the newer and retitled, what is it called, The Magick of Aleister Crowley.
Lon: Yeah, unless you are a book collector, but even so, I don’t get any of that $700! (laughs)
Lon: I don’t get any of that so don’t think you’re doing me a favour!
Andrew: And that is good advice for anybody, you know as somebody who resells secondhand books and rare books sometimes and stuff like that. High end Amazon prices are always ridiculous, and even then, even books that were sold for maybe 20 bucks and are now like 40 or 50 bucks, even then you can usually find them for about 40 to 50% of that if you dig around a little bit.
Lon: But ultimately, if you’ve got a local bookstore, even if the local bookstore doesn’t specialize in occult stuff, if you’ve got a local bookstore and you want to buy even one of my books, or a magick book or whatever, go to your local bookstore and order it from them. You might pay a couple of bucks more.
Andrew: Mmhm, or you might have to wait a week or two for it.
Lon: And you might have to wait a week or two, but it’s so much more important, you are making such a bigger contribution to literature and to art form and to intelligence (laughing) to try to get it from your local bookstore.
Andrew: Mmhm, absolutely. Alright, well thanks for making the time today Lon, it’s been lovely to catch up, hopefully it won’t be ten years until we get to talk again.
Lon: We’ll see you in ten years! (laughing)
Andrew: (laughing) See you in 2031!
Lon: Oh god, yeah.
Andrew: Those numbers get hard to think about sometimes, you know?
Lon: Maybe we’d better wait just five years. (laughing)
Andrew: Yeah (laughing) alright, well enjoy the rest of your day, thanks so much.
Lon: Okay, thanks, bye bye.
Andrew : All right. Folks that is episode 126 in the bank. I want to, again, thank everybody for listening in and enjoying stuff on this journey. You know, it’s kind of astounding, it’s like a quarter million downloads or something like that. It’s just kind of bonkers. I’m really grateful. Thanks. please, follow me on Instagram, or jump even better. Jump on my newsletter. you know, there’s new stuff coming at some point and, as always, if you would like help or support on your spiritual journey, I am available, through the website and if you’re looking for a spiritual goods, including books and all sorts of other things like tarot and crystals, I’ve got it all at my store and we are shipping pretty much anywhere on the planet. All right. Much love I’ll catch you on whatever next.