Tag Archives: meditation

Lisa Romero on going Beyond Psychedelics & Sorcery. Episode two in my How To Live Beyond series.

10 Jan

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If you’d like to sign up for Lisa’s upcoming online course – On January 14 – on all the topics we discuss on this show – “Navigating Realms of Consciousness; Practices and Insights from Western Esotericism – go to her site and use the AEWCH option for a discount. You can sign up after the date for the recording (or if you can’t attend on the day itself).


Welcome to the How To Live Beyond series of eps on AEWCH! To open 2023, each episode in this series will consider a set of tools or way of thinking that are useful but that we’re ready to go beyond in 2023. We’ll be looking at abundance and manifestation, wellness and self development, entheogens, paganism,  and more. The first episode (AEWCH 208) featured Mitch Horowitz on How To Live: Beyond the New Age.

These are the techniques and traditions we use to cope with and confront the challenges of our time, but risk –  if we can’t consider them deeply – getting us stuck in those challenges or worse, funneling their strengths back into those challenges. These episodes arent a call to forget about these techniques and traditions, but instead a call to bring forward what theyve offered without the barbs of the problems they’re tangled up with.

This time:

It seems like everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded by messages about why psychedelics are good for you, and how we can magic ourselves into a better planet or against capitalism etc etc.

It could be Graham Hancock advising ayahuasca use to see reality, or Michael Pollan detailing hallucigenic health benefits. And there’s #WItchesOfInstagram + leftist spiritual podcasts and books on using magic to survive and combat capitalism. Techies are microdosing to support their lives and by extension gentrification and class war, feminists are reclaiming witchcraft, Marxists are spellcasting, gay men are turning to Aleister Crowley for inspiration.

And to make matters worse, people who condemn using magic and mushrooms are even worse than all that. Religious fundamentalists, tankie materialist leftists, conservative fascists, edgelords saying magic is “woke,” new age “seekers” none of whom seem to have bearings in spiritual truth.

What is going on here, and does any of it lead to real and liberating spiritual inspiration, or are we just getting driven deeper and deeper into materialistic culture, politics, and economy?

To talk about all of this and how to get beyond it, I asked spiritual teacher and writer Lisa Romero onto the show. This is the deepest I’ve ever gone on the topic, and I think it throughly illustrates the dangers of sorcery and psychedelics, and how to think about them without becoming a foot-stomping fascist or a tech-hippie psychonaut enthusiast.

What’s useful? What’s outdated? What spiritual techniques need to be allowed to die (and be reborn)?

Lisa’s latest appearance on the show was on AEWCH 200 where she and I talked with Duncan Trussell where the three of us investigated this topic. This is a natural continuation, but we go much, much deeper, using the idea that accessing and commanding the beings in the realm of magic and psychedelics – the astral realm – is the adolescence of humanity.

And we also go into what we can do and how to approach the astral realm… and go beyond it.


One of my favorite episodes on elemental beings, which we talk about at length on this episode, is AEWCH 188 with artist and spiritual teacher, Marko Pogačnik. Marko and Lisa have a lot in common, and I hope to get them in conversation with each other sometime. For now, listening to the two episodes can bring them into conversation within and with you.

Conor McPherson’s play The Weir, is one of the finest expressions of encounters with the astral realm and the Otherworld (and how not to deal with them). Of course it’s best to see it, but unless you’re lucky enough to have a production going on nearby, reading it is the next best thing. It’s in this collection of his plays.

Here’s Lisa’s website: The Inner Work Path . All of her books are worthwhile; but the one closest to this conversations is A Bridge to Spirit: Understanding Conscious Self-Development and Consciousness-Altering Substances. And here’s Lisa’s recent appearance on the Duncan Trussell Family Hour. Perhaps related to this episode in a sideways manner – Lisa’s book Spirit-led Community: Healing the Impact of Technology.

Until next time, friends: Live well!


20 Dec

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  • And if you want to explore my other main creative output – writing fiction – you can buy my debut novel, Hawk Mountain (and if you’ve bought it and loved it, give it a great review on Amazon and/or Goodreads!). All my creative projects end up supporting each other!

Was it a difficult year for you? Even if lockdown regulations went away (and it seems almost inconceivable that they were in place just earlier this year, doesn’t it), even if the dread of the US President’s every move seems to have dissipated… was it a hard year? Did anxiety seem to alight on everything? Did you feel in touch with a sort of uncertainty that woke you or didn’t let you sleep?

Anxiety is a call to attentiveness that leads us to command. Another way to express that attentiveness is gratitude. The world is seeking to be seen for what it is, and the only way to do that is to look with love.

To talk about this, I invited therapist and teacher Michael Lipson back on the show. Michael last appeared on the show on AEWCH 139; a listener favorite. His new book of gratitude, Be: An Alphabet of Astonishment is a profound meditation on being.

meeting strangers • on being afraid of spiritual reality • jouissance • keeping individuality while meeting the other • longing for connection • what happens when out desires conflict with our ethics • needs vs wants • the spiritual being with a TV for a head • magic and the Moon • why every life matters even though we reincarnate • the three loaves of bread as an occult secret • Simone Weil and affliction •


I mentioned Denis Johnson’s small masterpiece of a novel, Train Dreams. If you’d like to see what living without attachment was like before our culture enhanced and amplified attachments, this is the book. And I think everyone who loves beautiful writing should read it.

Michael talks about the pursuit of the intensity of the real, a subject I talk abotu in depth with literary critic Stephen Kern on AEWCH 42. It’s a great episode and one of the lesser-known ones.

Michael’s first book, Stairway of Surprise is a beautiful and plain-language ascent through Rudolf Steiner’s basic exercises. It’s a great way to encounter these exercises however much or little you feel comfortable with spiritual realities. You can also sign up for Michael’s group meditation sessions and read his blog via his website. (And you can read his other book about those sessions, Group Meditation.)

This is the last episode of the year friends, so sit with it and I’ll meet you all again in 2023!
With love,

Why being able to think about a cat means we can change the world: consciousness, psychoanalysis, and spirituality on AEWCH 139 with Michael Lipson!

26 Jan

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Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Michael’s books you should order directly from Steiner Books, for the other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 139 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

I sometimes think about the concept of world change, of political and economic change is getting ahead of ourselves. Why? Because we haven’t even begun to consider ourselves, consider what it means to be human, what thought is, what thinking is, and what consciousness is.
If we can’t hold a single thought, how can we create new structures for us to live in and dissolve the old?And it’s not helpful that everyone, from capitalists to communists to anarchists, generally think that questions of consciousness are fine to leap past and into creating theoretical abstractions to change the world.
Everything – everything – is tethered to the experience of thought and thinking.Don’t think so? Well, where did that thought come from? Have a theory about how thinking and thought is not the groundswell of existence? Well, where did that come from? Even the thought that consciousness is an illusion comes from thinking, of course. So there’s no way to get outside of thinking.
My idea has been: let’s start building from that, let’s get into the experience of consciousness and let our political, economic, and cultural work come from there.
I wanted to talk about this, and I wanted to talk about it early in this new year of incredible opportunity and trouble. So I asked therapist and author Michael Lipson on the show. Michael is the author of Stairway of Surprise: Six Steps to a Creative Life and Group Meditation. For nearly a decade, he worked with children with HIV and AIDS in New York City. Now he has his own practice and runs group meditation meetings each week via michaellipson.org.
We discuss so much on this episode, and I’m so excited to share it with you.


  • The way belief in materialism destroys freedom
  • Why solipsism is correct, but unrefined
  • Our everyday knowledge as an obstacle to seeing things as they are
  • Dissolving materialism is a spiritual path
  • That time I saw the pizza-being (Um, what?) – but don’t take my word for it!
  • The difference between spiritual substance and spiritual state
  • How to redeem the spiritual over Zoom
  • Why absorption matters
  • How psychoanalysis without spirituality necessitates law, and how its focus on childhood is a description of karma
  • The importance of contained nothingness
  • Certainties, bad and good
  • Creativity as the antidote to angry certainty
  • Psychotherapy in motion (literally)
  • Despair as a sign for hopefulness


• Most of Michael’s work can be found on his website, including his short series of essays/meditation prompts on Simone Weil. And here’s Michael in conversation with author Allison Burnett is here.• The Nature Institute in New York state is where I managed to finally, permanently, alter my thinking from object-thinking to metamorphic-thinking.

The Work of Byron Katie changed my life, too.

• Emily Dickinson wrote, “A letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend. Indebted in our talk to attitude and accent, there seems a spectral power in thought that walks alone.” Here’s more on her letters.

• One of my first conversations at the top of the global crisis – and consequently, one of the first I did remotely – was with writer and theorist Mark O’Connell on AEWCH 105 about apocalypse, of course.

• A bit on Śūnyatā, or emptiness, in Buddhism.

• You can learn more about David Spangler’s work of incarnational spirituality and work with elemental beings via his organization, The Lorian Association.

• I talk about the problem of certainty in 2021 on AEWCH 136 and about nothingness on AEWCH 116 with Are Thoressen.

• “Who pours out like a spring, knowing knows him: and leads him delighted through the bright creation, that often ends with the start, and begins with the end.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

• Here’s Rudolf Steiner’s quote on faithfulness:“Let your loyalty to another human being come about in this way:  there will be moments — quickly passing by — when he will seem to you filled and illumined by the true, primal image of his spirit.
Then can come, yes, will come, long stretches of time when your fellow-being seems clouded, even darkened.  But learn at these times to say to yourself:  The spirit will strengthen me; I will remember the true, unchanging image that I once saw.  Nothing at all — neither deception nor disguise — can take it away from me.Struggle again and again for the true picture that you saw.  The struggle itself is your faithfulness.
And in those efforts to be faithful and to trust, a human being will come close to another as if with an angel’s power of protection.” (by the way, I had Duncan Trussell read this waaaay back on AEWCH 16!)

• Want another podcast to listen to? I love the The Fundamentalist Podcast, featuring Peter Rollins and Elliot Morgan from AEWCH 135!

Until next time, friends,

Breathing in the end of the world – Franco “Bifo” Berardi on Against Everyone With Conner Habib

17 Sep

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I’m so happy to share my conversation with the radical philosopher, Franco “Bifo” Berardi.
I think it is not only a good conversation, but a truly productive one. My deepest hope is that it is helpful for you.
Bifo is one of the most important and creative thinkers of our time; I find many of Bifo’s thoughts in line with the occult philosophies of the Western esoteric traditions I’ve spent so long studying, and for me, that is so enlivening. That is to say, when two people or traditions come up with similar conclusions from totally different angles, we must (as Special Agent Dale Cooper says) pay strict attention.
Bifo is the author of many books, including what I view as his two most important books, Breathing: Chaos and Poetry and Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide (which is a much easier read, and deeply informed my own thinking on the issue, which I discussed on AEWCH 11: SHOOT TO LIVE). He was the founder of Radio Alice, a radical broadcast station in Italy, as well as the anti-authoritarian activist group, Autonomia.
The discussion is wide ranging and, I think, extremely potent. It’s a commingling of occult, anarchist, socialist, and artistic ideas.
We discuss:
  • How rhythms dissolve political oppression
  • Capitalism as a dynamic of change, acceleration, and expansion that cannot understand limit
  • Why information and possibilities are not enough; we need the ability (“potency”) to transform them into reality
  • Why solidarity is dead and we are trapped in competition
  • Why poetry, sex, and magic matter now more than ever
  • The failure of communism, and why we need it anyway
  • Moving away from politics and towards therapy
  • How poetry is our doorway towards a new world
  • Why the “post-truth” world is an opportunity
  • Reincarnation: the only narrative that can remake the future
  • The shattering of the critical mind
  • Why (and how) we must accept all conspiracy theories
  • The spectating unconscious (and how it wishes for Trump)
  • Why everyone’s suffering belongs to everyone
  • What Trump’s victory gives to us
  • How sex work erodes work
  • Why no one should ever be paid for their labor

Lots of great SHOW NOTES here.

Until next time,



Daskalos And The Mysteries Of Christian Occultism: AEWCH 67 with Daniel Joseph!

16 Apr

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AEWCH67 Title Card
I’ve been longing to introduce you to Christian occultism more deeply, and particularly the work of Stylianos Atteshlis, also known as Daskalos. So I’ve invited one of my spiritual teachers, who was also a student of Daskalos’s. author Daniel Joseph, onto the show to explore why Christian occultism matters now more than ever.
If you’re turned off by the “Christian” part, but interested in the “occultism” part, listen through; you’ll find that there’s plenty there to think through. In fact, we don’t mention Christianity as such very much, but it runs through the work and practice. And if you’re turned off by both, Daniel and I break down all the seemingly hocus pocus terminology and make it intelligible for secular listeners.
Daniel runs workshops for The Researchers of Truth, who carry on Daskalos’s work, and I highly recommend you check them out.
Daskalos’s work, via Daniel and his spiritual partner, Aki Toshimutsu, has changed my life, and I know many people can benefit greatly from engaging with it.
Daniel and I discuss:
  • Who Daskalos is, how Daniel came to meet his teachings, and why his work matters so much.
  • What are the “Seven Ascended Masters”? (We really do get to it by the end of the ep)
  • How Westerners often reject Western esotericism
  • How religious Christianity has wounded people and how that Christianity is much different than Christian occultism and esotericism
  • Daskalos’s healing miracles, and how proximity to spiritual truth can itself be healing
  • What the human being is and what dreams are
  • Why dead people often don’t know they’re dead (and how you can tell if you’re dead or not)
  • The different esoteric bodies
  • Why some esoteric masters are public, some remain hidden, and one that was recently incarnated
  • The illusion of time
  • Where humanity will be in a million years and why nuclear war and climate change won’t be the end of us
  • The theory of understanding and practice of engaging with elementals
  • The skill of spiritual listening, versus secular hearing
  • Being frustrated when we don’t have spiritual encounters
  • Why Conner was all nervous about this episode, and how to deal with this nervousness when you’re about to speak with someone

Show Notes are here.