Tale of how Mercury Exorcised Pluto, his Evil Twin

Exorcising the Evil Twin

The gods and goddesses of western myth were created in the ideals of ancient Greece. Too bad they abused their morals, ethics, nobility, and power. As greedy, narcissistic, and incestuous gods, they tempted fate and influenced human destiny forever. Those same gods and their dysfunctional families are in the here and now, incarnate as us with new names, scripts, roles, sets, and relationships. Nothing else has changed.

Pluto is death. He’s the last stop on the train to never ending nothingness. The shit doesn’t stop until it gets to Pluto where it gathers for all eternity. Imagine the stench.  Ravenous vampires mercilessly await us along the banks of the River Styx, anxious to suck our souls. The myth of Pluto tells us that he got tired of hanging out with corpses and decided to reward himself with a tasty perk from the world of the living. Persephone was the tastiest perk of all. She’s the feminine side of Pluto. The well-guarded daughter of Demeter, earth goddess, was sniffing a narcissus in a meadow one day when Pluto (the ultimate narcissist) erupted from the earth in his chariot and abducted her to be his High Priestess and Queen of the Underworld.

Persephone was off limits. In desperation and panic, Demeter pleaded with her brothers and sisters for help. Unfortunately, no one dared take initiative because they all feared Pluto. Demeter took matters into her own hands and killed all vegetation on the earth. That’s how we got winter. The gods began to worry. If we perished, who’d worship them? They went to bat for mankind, intervened, and negotiated a compromise between Pluto and Demeter. Persephone spends spring and summer with her mom and winters with Pluto as his Queen of the underworld and High Priestess of the unconsciousness.

Venus was married to Vulcan (Hephaestus), lame god of the forge in mythology. Beauty wedded Craftsmanship. Vulcan got his muse, however, Venus needed a lot more than craft. She craved sensual and sexual satisfaction, resulting in casual flings with Mars, Mercury, and her other brothers who fathered many different children with her. Mars and Venus produced Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror), the twins who served Mars in battle. Their daughter, Harmonia, and son, Cupid (Eros) served Venus. Hermes (Mercury) and Aphrodite (Venus) conceived Hermaphrodite, androgyny of hetero-bi-homo-sexuality.

In this particular story, Mercury and Venus were happily married. Mercury needed a lot of intellectual stimulation, along with emotional and physical freedom. Venus had no problem giving that to him. Venus required emotional stability, consistency, reliability, affection, and sensual pleasure. Mercury gratefully embraced his responsibilities.

Venus and Persephone met through a mutual friend. They bonded as soon as they found out that they shared a passion for the arts, beauty, and nature. Venus, the muse in music, was goddess of fine art. Enchanting and quixotic, Persephone was an extraordinary artist. They decided to collaborate on an art project together. Persephone and Pluto offered Venus a full scholarship for a summer residency at their country home.

Persephone embodies the hypnotic power of the personal and collective unconscious. Plutonian types have mesmeric personalities and healing powers. It’s easy to feel special when you’re with them. They can bring out the best and worst in each of us. Helen of Troy (Persephone) was so charismatic; men fell hopelessly in love with her. The Trojan War occurred when young Paris wrongly chose Venus in a goddess beauty contest and as a result, fell foolishly in love with Helen, Queen to King Menelaus.

Pluto and Persephone were Scorpios. Pluto had Sun and Moon in Scorpio and Leo rising. That’s a recipe for double trouble with a heaping helping of the melodramatic. Persephone was making art all over the world when she and Pluto first met. Many princes had wooed Persephone, but all turned out to be frogs or beasts. Desperately, she craved true love, but Persephone was still as emotionally innocent as Little Red Riding Hood who met the Wolf (Pluto) in the forest on her way to Grandma’s house.

Persephone had a long graceful heart line ending under her index finger. She saw people and circumstances as she wanted them to be. Pluto, Emperor of Darkness, presented himself as the Prince of Lightness. He was physically strong, intelligent, handsome, expressive, funny, adventurous, and a talented craftsman. Pluto beguiled Persephone with caring words and loving actions. He treated her like a real goddess and fulfilled her soul mate fantasy. Persephone’s lust for love literally attracted the man from Hell.

Pluto and Persephone had a waterfront estate on the outer banks of the River Styx, far from Mount Olympus where Mercury and Venus had grown up. Mercury and Pluto were instantly compatible. In myth, Mercury had escorted departed souls to Death’s door and couriered messages from Mount Olympus to the underworld. Mercury had planned to spend the summer by himself, but Venus pleaded. “These people are incredible. You won’t believe this place and community. I’ve met a couple who you’re going to love. You must come”. Community had been an occasional weekend barbecue with the locals for Mercury. Venus described Pluto and Persephone in flowery superlatives. “Sounds too good to be true” Mercury responded. It was and took over fifteen years and a series of very painful character building experiences for absolutely everyone to unveil that truth.

Mercury changed his plans after Venus’s call. He spent his summer with her. Maybe she was right. People were warm and friendly. Strangers waved when they drove by. Pluto was one of the kindest people Mercury had ever met. His words were thoughtful and his actions generous. Mercury thought Persephone was Pollyanna. Warts were beauty marks to her. She saw the best in everyone. Mercury put his skepticism and sarcasm on a back burner when she was around. She softened him. Who was he to be cynical while she was embracing the best? Mercury grew to adore Persephone. Pluto and Persephone were surrounded by fascinating friends and loving families. Mercury and Venus began to wonder if maybe they had found their Shangri-La.

Mercury rules hands and palmistry (with Chiron). Mercury had known Pluto for a while before Pluto asked him to look at his hands (most people want that as soon as they find out you read hands). Pluto’s large rectangular palms, long stiff fingers, and tightly tied head and lifeline confirmed he had a Scorpion personality. Like Manuel (the child serial killer), Pluto’s ball of the thumb (Venus) had no lines parallel to his lifeline. His heart line dipped to touch the beginning of his head and life lines.

Mercury felt confused. A large ball of the thumb person can fool even the best judge of character with feigned warmth and generosity, but not Mercury. He asked Pluto if he was challenged by intimacy and by verbalizing his true feelings. Pluto replied that he had no idea what Mercury was talking about. Everyone knew he was a loving person and caring community member. Mercury decided that Pluto must have risen above his challenges and his intimate relationships would eventually show up in his hands. They never did. Mercury continued to ignore Pluto’s other ambiguities and incongruities.

Pluto was a hugger.  Mercury was androgynous, but Mercury wasn’t comfortable with so much physical affection so soon. It didn’t take long for Pluto to catch on to Mercury’s uneasiness. His mission became to hug and kiss Mercury regularly and turn this “Man of Steel” into “Organic Man”. He was successful. Pluto helped Mercury become a more trusting person as he passionately cultivated his friendship. Holding Mercury squarely by the shoulders, Pluto would gaze straight into Mercury’s eyes and say, “You’re the greatest”  “I love you sooooooooooooooooooo much”  “I can talk with you about things that I can’t say to anyone else”.  Sometimes they laughed so hard that they cried.

Mercury loved Pluto like a real brother. He would have freely given him anything. He and Venus cherished Pluto’s friendship. Pluto, however, methodically exploited their love and trust as he covertly plotted their individual seductions and betrayals. Pluto prepared Mercury and Venus, like virgins, to be spiritually raped on the altar of hell.

The twisted handwriting was always on the wall. Pluto recited poetry from his journal for Mercury and Venus. His delivery was dramatic, but his content seemed contrived and cliché. He wrote for the reader, not for the writer. Mercury and Venus were reticent to criticize Pluto’s art. It somehow made him even more lovable. They giggled as they recited corny poetry when he left; not realizing their friendship was also bad poetry.

Pluto asked Mercury to spread his tarot cards. Concerns of gossip, betrayal, and painful endings would arise. Mercury interpreted them hopefully. It never occurred to him to put himself and his family in that picture. Mercury looked at Pluto’s hands many times over the years and always blocked the truth. Why shouldn’t he trust Pluto? Pluto had certainly made them feel lovable and they were positive that Pluto loved them.

Pluto would show up with huge dark circles under his eyes. In hindsight, they were polluted pools of deceit reflected in a murky swamp. Terrified of dying, he secretly wished he could, but that wasn’t an option. Mercury and Venus comforted Pluto. In a moment of weakness, Pluto blurted “One day you’ll hate me and turn against me”. Mercury and Venus recited in chorus, “You’re crazy”. Turned out everyone was right.

When Pluto’s indiscretions first surfaced, Mercury and Venus rationalized his behavior.   Everyone makes mistakes they thought. They figured that by successfully seducing his best friend’s life partner, Pluto had unconsciously killed off his father and married his mother. Pluto had grown up in a suburb of Metropolis with a very loving, sensitive, and artistic father (a beautiful man) who feared his own shadow. Pluto’s powerful mother (Scorpio) wore the pants in the family. Pluto had climbed every mountain and hiked every trail in search of his manhood but hadn’t found it.

Even when the connections that Pluto and Persephone had worked so hard to create began to unravel and disintegrate, Mercury and Venus were still protecting Pluto. They thought they were ‘special’ and different from everyone else. They were. They had indulged Pluto in his narcissistic fantasies and kept his treacherous secrets from everyone including themselves and each other. There’s a very thin line between perpetrator and victim. Masochists and sadists are co-dependent. Voyeurs and exhibitionists are magnets for one another. Just watch Jerry Springer for live action.

Pluto and Mercury nourished each other’s ‘Pig Dogs’. They drank home brewed beer and ate hot buttered popcorn while they watched porn and fantasized erotic sexploits. Once in a while they’d find a sleezy lounge where they’d watch people lap dancing. While sitting in front of a crackling fire late one night, Pluto turned to Mercury and asked, “Would you mind going upstairs and fucking my wife?” Privately, Pluto had been priming Persephone by saying that Mercury was hot for her, even though he wasn’t. Mercury declined. He loved their polyamorous fantasies, but they were just fantasies. It wasn’t the same for Pluto. Mercury learned that Pluto had actually lusted over, coveted, seduced, or tried to seduce almost every female they’d ever fantasized about including their good friend’s wives. Mercury felt ashamed and remorseful for “his part”. He’d encouraged Pluto’s pathology by indulging in the sick fantasies that turned them both on. He’d have had clearer boundaries had he known the truth about Pluto, and himself.

Hindsight dealt everyone a challenging blow. Mercury realized that he and Venus were just like everyone else when a mutual friend confided to Mercury that Pluto had foolishly bragged about how he had attempted to seduce Venus. Mercury confronted Venus, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Venus told him she didn’t want to hurt their friendship. “It’s been so long since you had a real buddy”. She assured him that she had no intention of indulging in Pluto’s persistent advances. Mercury and Venus had been living in Pluto’s home for the first year and a half of that relationship. Venus had hidden Pluto’s behavior and kept a secret from Mercury for fourteen of the fifteen years they’d known Pluto.

Venus told Mercury about the first time that Pluto attempted to seduce her. Mercury had sworn off physical labor, but he felt compelled to try to help Pluto and his partner save their failing custom furniture making business. They were wonderful craftsmen, but didn’t know how to get paid well for their work. Being a natural salesman, Mercury offered to bring work from Metropolis. When possible, he’d help make, deliver, and install jobs. One day, they were all hard at work in the shop when Pluto exclaimed, “Damn, I forgot something at home (Venus was home alone). I’ll be back soon”.

In hindsight, Mercury remembered Pluto forgetting things a lot. Venus was back at the house taking a bath (in the only bathroom) when Pluto arrived home. He knocked on the door and asked if she could please close the shower curtain. He needed to use the toilet. She said OK. The next thing she knew, Pluto abruptly drew the shower curtain, and stepped confidently and completely naked into the bathtub with a huge smile on his face. “What are you doing?!!!” yelled Venus. Pluto pretended he had been in some kind of trance. His master plan hadn’t worked out yet, but he’d seen what he intended to see and shown what he intended to show.

The whole community became hip to Pluto. One distraught wife told Venus that the usual topic and focus of female get-togethers was, “Who was Pluto hitting on at that moment and how bad was his influence on their husbands?”  Persephone had no clue that Pluto was betraying her mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, every single day of their marriage. She blamed herself for his selfish behavior. Pluto’s inability to truly love her remained his secret. Other wives tried to enlist Persephone into group discussions; however, she declined, maintaining a ‘hands off Pluto’ attitude.

Pluto used every technique in the book to get what he wanted. Flattery worked. Mercury could see how Pluto boosted Venus’s self-esteem. He wanted her to feel queenly and goddess like. His behavior taught Mercury how to be a more passionate and desirable husband. Dishonesty worked too. Pluto would innocently offer to physically “wrestle” female anxieties and frustrations away. That notorious ‘walk in the woods’ was his favorite venue.  He was infamous for saying, “I just want to kiss you”.

Art of Seduction and Betrayal

Once Mercury and Venus stopped protecting Pluto, reluctant females peered cautiously from cloistered closets, confessing that Pluto had seduced or attempted to seduce them. One more irreverent pastor had faked faith and tempted trust. By driving an invisible psychic wedge into his friends’ marriages, Pluto fostered guilt and shame and forced everyone to hold onto their secrets. Pluto’s `beloved’ victims were full of remorse. One tearful woman told Mercury that she had spent nearly twenty years of her marriage feeling guilt, shame, and fear that her husband would eventually find out about her and Pluto.

The last straw for Mercury was when he observed Pluto seducing his good friend’s wife, right under everyone’s noses. She was another Persephone type and artist. Pluto was trading in Persephone 1 for Persephone 2, the sequel. The speediest path into her panties was through her vanity, so he immortalized her artwork. Mercury had confused Shangri-La with Xanadu. Pluto was Citizen Kane, incapable of truly loving while endeavoring to turn his conquest into a star. Pluto urgently wished to love and be loved, but only knew lust. Rosebud was the love he so deeply desired but could never have.

Years prior to Persephone 2’s conquest, a friend told Mercury that he had walked in on Pluto while he was jerking off over pictures of Persephone 2. Persephone 1 was in the next room. Even though Pluto had fantasized about, lusted over, coveted, and carefully plotted the seduction of Persephone 2, he still pretended they “fell in love”. Unless Pluto has actually transformed his severely damaged character, it will be a very sad day in hell for Persephone II when she discovers that her cup is half fool.

Mercury, Venus, Pluto, and Persephone were destined to share a very powerful love experience, followed by a very negative outcome. Trust would forever forward be an issue. Pluto betrayed Mercury, Venus, and Persephone by working so diligently to make them love him while he was unable to truly love them back. He brought out the best and worst in them. If Pluto’s love was real, you’d see the lines in the ball of his thumb. Pluto was in Mercury’s. He stops at a perpendicular cross line, the roadblock where Mercury exorcised his evil twin. Mercury had pondered who, what, and when that might be.

Mercury and Venus chose not to confront Pluto in person because Pluto had no real remorse for his actions. He was in denial, explaining that he was sorry for “his part”. He made himself into a victim and even seduced a female psychotherapist into believing his stories. What Pluto could have used was a no bullshit male therapist who’d help him to see himself through the eyes of the loving beings he had so pathologically deceived.

Hands speak louder than words and actions

 

Scorpio – Shedding light on darkness

Scorpio

voldemortScorpio is black. In Roman myth, Pluto is god of death, sex, and transformation. Hades is lord of the underworld in Greek myth. The Devil is alive and well in Christian myth. The Death card, Queen of Cups, and High Priestess symbolize Scorpio in Tarot. Voldemort, Darth Vader, Mummy, and the Big Bad Wolf are modern versions.

 

Pluto inspires rapists and terrorists and seduces priests who sexually abuse the children whose innocent souls they’ve been entrusted to protect. The prospect of an eternity in hell both tempts and terrifies them. A path of too many dark secrets leads to the palace of the sociopath. Pluto rules executioners, coroners, undertakers, and morticians. From our first breath to our final exit, Pluto ruthlessly awaits our arrival with a kiss of death.

Pluto can be controlling, compulsive, manipulative, jealous, possessive, fearful, resentful, obstinate, secretive, suspicious, subtle, and subversive. Pluto also has a bright side that can love without coveting, lusting, seducing, controlling, or possessing another’s soul. Pluto can transform into the Phoenix who rises triumphantly from the ashes. Scorpions have a powerful sense of purpose when they’re not at war within themselves. They can envision their deepest desires and know that they will eventually realize them.

Scorpio is fiercely loyal, but Scorpio’s greatest loyalty is always to himself. It may take a near death experience to awaken the Scorpion to her higher self. I say ‘her’ because Scorpio and Capricorn are feminine signs, even though we always refer to Saturn and Pluto as ‘he’. When ‘he’ and ‘she’ are balanced, Scorpio can be born again and again. Scorpions make excellent researchers, clever problem solvers, sleuthful spies, skillful surgeons, and insightful psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. Scorpio attracts many of the best and worst mystery, crime, and horror writers.

round self portraitWhen the Sun entered Scorpio on October 23rd (after passing through my Libra 12th house), I began to examine my character flaws and ponder my darkest secrets. I devoured dark music, read dark literature, and watched dark movies for many dark, cold, damp, and dreary days before I began writing this blog entry. Retrograde Mercury (Scorpio / Libra), escorted me to Pluto’s door, mercilessly exposing my sacred lies and starkly reminding me that even the best kept secrets eventually die. As a serious professional palmist, I guard many thousands of secrets. Many people reveal their most intimate secrets to readers because they misguidedly believe that we already know them. I don’t, until they tell them to me.

mark seltman astrological chartFor those interested in astrology, Gemini rules my sun, hands, and resultant behavior. Scorpio rules my unconscious. Scorpio rises in my natal chart along with the asteroid, Chiron (hand). Jupiter in Scorpio is in my first house is a singleton in the bottom hemisphere of my horoscope. Pluto is in my tenth house closely conjunct my Leo midheaven and ninth house Saturn. My Sun Uranus and Venus North Node conjunctions are in Gemini in the 8th house (along with my vertex, asteroids, and outer planets). When Saturn transited my ascendant back in November of 2012, it squared my Midheaven and compelled me to create more structure and discipline in my life. Saturn forced me to focus more on achieving realistic goals and challenged me to let go of everything and everyone that wasn’t working for me.

The hardest part of the whole process and experience for me has been letting go of people who are no longer right or good for me. Even if they’re responsible for my current thinking and actions, I still feel guilty for having to pull away my love and for abandoning and betraying them for reasons that accept no compromise or excuses. Losing faith and trust in someone is the beginning of the end of that relationship for me.

A couple of weeks ago, I let go of a 25 year friendship that I believed was something it wasn’t. Here’s my version of that story. My friend was smart, talented, creative, and funny, and a deeply emotionally wounded person. Frequent late night phone calls often centered on his complaining about or blaming his family, friends, and colleagues for his loneliness, suffering, and struggles. I don’t think he ever took responsibility for his part. I listened for many hours while trying to be empathetic and supportive. So many times, my friend told me how much he loved me and my family and how much he valued our friendship. That felt good. We shared our philosophical and spiritual ideas. I never asked my friend for anything for myself. That became the crux of our impending crisis.

Hand BookMost of you know that I have written a narrative non-fiction palmistry book called ‘Hand Book’. My goal was to help people realize that they don’t have to be palmists to see their relationship, career, health, and other valuable potentials in their hands. Back in April, I sent out 100 reviewer copies to friends and important players in the helping professions. My friend raved about his copy. I told him I was seeking credible reviews. I wanted to be more visible when someone searches for a palmistry book on Amazon. Since that time, Hand Book has gathered more legitimate five star reviews than any palmistry book on Amazon. He asked me if I’d like him to write a review. I said “sure”.

Weeks passed and nothing happened. Honestly, I could care less about his couple of lines on Amazon, but the idea of getting nothing back after giving so much for so long began festering in my mind. This was the first time I had asked my friend for something, and nothing happened. When I confronted him, he said that he had read some of my reviews and was totally intimidated by how well conceived and written they were. He felt inadequate.

I suggested he take a few favorite review lines and rewrite them in his voice. Maybe he could call one of his other close friends and say something like, “I told Mark I’d write a review for his new book and I’m having a hard time. Could you help me?”  You get the point. ‘Actions speak louder than words’ is not just a hollow saying.  A lot of gratuitous platitudes and excuses don’t pay the proverbial rent. The moral of this story is that my dedication to a friendship is not unconditional, but based on expectations that have been set and agreed to by all. My faith in my friend’s caring words died due to his inaction.

Pluto is also lord and master of the Sexual Orgasm (little death). One exquisite moment of fully losing oneself, however, is not enough for Pluto. Temptation, seduction, and betrayal are his M.O. While seduction turns Pluto on, betrayal gets him off. Guilt, obligation, shame, and remorse safeguard his evil secrets. Pluto tempts us to rationalize our bad behaviors by telling us, “Everything is OK as long as no one gets hurt”. Unfortunately, someone is often hurt, intentionally or not.

Many of our darkest fears are connected to our secret obsessions, lusts, fetishes, and sexual desires. Fear of getting caught turns a lot of people on. The more taboo the behavior, the more erotic and pleasurable the action. Pluto falsely assures us that our secrets will stay secret. Poisonous spiders, slithery snakes, and hungry crocodiles stealthily lurk beneath his stagnant waters. Society frowns on unconventional sexual experiences. Fortunately, however, it agrees that sex should be consensual among adults and that adults must stay away from children sexually.

Everyone has dark secrets. Abusive parents, jealous partners, manipulative bosses, and mean spirited jailers mask the shadowy unstable side of their emotional natures. Your friendly neighbor, a model citizen, devoted husband, loving father, loyal friend, and faithful parishioner conceals his secret lusts for sex, money, and property while he indulges in his physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual perversions. When he dies, his family finds hidden pornographic literature, sado-masochistic sexual supplies, secret love letters, illegal drugs, and concealed money.

A coroner secretly collects perverse photos at death scenes. A career of fatality has warped his reverence for life into a morbid sense of humor. He shares his handiwork and pathology with his deviant friends. One photo has immortalized a man’s greatest fear as he accidentally electrocuted himself while trying to sexually get off when he switched on the alternating current that he had wired to his genitals.

A cadaver awaits a makeover. The mortician lights a match by his decaying anus and gently presses on his stomach. The methane produces a torch that singes the hair on his thighs. It smells horrible. The mortician and his friends laugh. Pluto is pleased.

One emergency room nurse told me about a couple that was in a horrible automobile accident. She was sitting on his lap and having sex while he was speeding on the freeway. They were unable to separate and were still together when the emergency vehicles arrived. The Plutonian part was that they were both married to other people.

Life’s most painful lessons are a result of choosing darkness. It’s easy to rationalize the darkest behavior when your head rules your heart. I never intended to hurt anyone. No one did anything they didn’t want to do. I may not have told the whole truth, but I didn’t lie. I’m sorry for my part. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Can you keep a secret? Do you depend on someone whose hard lessons result from bad moral values? Is temptation strong? Do guilt, shame, remorse, and fear hold you in darkness?

the great seal copyGEEntire societies and cultures are corrupted by the Plutocratic power of corporate money owning their raw materials, energy, communications, transportation, food, health, and their financial, religious, and political processes.

Everyone has heard the saying “The only guarantees in life are Death and Taxes”. Death and taxes are definitely Plutonic. If there’s a particular industry that fits Scorpio and the 8th house of the astrological chart, it’s insurance. Insurance is a contractual arrangement whereby one party pays another party to guarantee them against a specified loss. Insurance implies that we have something of value. Perhaps we can’t afford not to value something.  We worry less about the costs of bad shit happening to our family, health, home, car, or property if our premiums are paid.

Insurance is a form of gambling. Your insurance agent is your bookie. Your insurer is the casino. The house is always favored financially due to statistical permutations, combinations, and probabilities. High risk means high premiums. Actuarial tables decide the odds. The insured always loses, even when he wins. My good friend Lloyd tells me that he’s depending on winning Lotto for his retirement. He assures me that it gives him hope. “You’ve got to play to lose” he quips.

Insurance does not protect us from bad shit happening. If you’re poor and healthy, having insurance that you can’t afford may be a bigger gamble than not having insurance. That’s why we need affordable healthcare. Insuring can be confused with ensuring or assuring. Spraying crops with pesticides ensures fewer bugs and weeds. It assures that we eat, drink, and breathe toxic chemicals. Investing Social Security in the Stock Market does not insure that the market won’t collapse. Drilling for oil in pristine wilderness does not insure that we will have enough oil. It does ensure and assure we will have environmental, social, and political problems. Conserving energy ensures that we will have more energy and waste fewer natural resources. Offering vengeance as a solution to violence assures more violence. Does having a nuclear arsenal insure, ensure, or assure that we will not have Nuclear War?

toe tagPeople frequently ask me, “Am I going to die?” or “When am I going to die?” I assure them that everyone dies. Only God knows when. Life insurance protects the living. What are your last years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds of life worth? What’s the premium for a graceful and painless final exit? That’s why I’ve created my very own “Dr. Death Do it Yourself Kit”. When it’s my time, I have a logical, practical, painless, and peaceful alternative to facing a future of pain, dependency, lack of awareness, loss of love, or poverty in old age (hopefully).

Recommended books:

Final Exit by Derek Humphrey – to learn more about dying with dignity.

Denial of Death by Ernest Becker – for death psychology.

I’ve written way too many words to put into one blog entry, so stay tuned for several more installments. Next – A tragic tale of Mercury and Pluto

Libra – Search for Other

Libra

Libra is the month of marriage, partnership, sharing, and giving. Libra is the 7th sign of the zodiac and the 7th house of marriage in astrology. Libras strive for balance, idolize harmony, dislike discord, and hate confrontation. They’re the best negotiators of all types. Famous for having a hard time deciding where and what to eat or what to wear, Libras can be very decisive when it really matters. Most Libras prefer to be frank and direct, but haven’t figured out how to be liked for it. Even when they’re aggressive, indirect, or vague, they manage to get their way. Many tread the thin line between ethics and honesty. Maybe they know something important that could kill a deal or make a task harder for themselves, but fail to mention it. Some Libras serve their clients by wielding logic, tact, and diplomacy like Samurai Swordsmen. Athena’s mighty sword is brandished with icy detachment. Legal, political, publishing, marketing, public relations, higher education, and entertainment fields are burgeoning with Libra types.

Libra HandAll Thinking types have square palms and long fingers. Many Libras have long straight unobstructed headlines that fork at their end near the percussion of the hand. They see every side of a situation. Straight and strong long pinkie fingers enhance communication. Dominant bottom and middle phalanges are favorable for commerce, banking, and real estate, while a long top phalanx is better for public speaking, journalism, and law. Blended with strong index fingers, you’ve got ambitious hardworking managers and powerful leaders. A wide separation between head and life lines increases personal initiative and spontaneity and reveals its owner really doesn’t care what others think of them. Some Libras are blinded by their desire and need to get their way. Trying to change a Libra’s mind is like playing mental monopoly. Be direct and make good sense.

Most healthy Libra types have strong handshakes and firm pink elastic skin. Long graceful heart lines extend from under the pinkie to the base of the index finger, symbolizing sentimentality and romance. Vertical lines on the ball of the thumb within the life line are soul commitments to family and friends. Libras are idealistic, romantic, and refined. Aesthetics are important to them. You’ll see Libra business types in chic designer clothing taking clients out to trendy restaurants.

AthenaAthena is my favorite Libra archetype. Greek Goddess of Wisdom and Justice, Athena rules the strategic thinking required in battle. Heroes like Odysseus (Libra) and Achilles (Aries) worshiped her. Often pictured as a handsome Goddess in battle armor, Athena holds a shield (Intuition) in one hand and a sword or spear (Thinking) in the other. She discards emotion to think with crystal clarity. In Libra, Athena holds the scales of justice and has an owl (Wisdom) on her shoulder. Real palmistry story about my relationship with an Athena type who I call ‘Athen’.

 

As a Libra, Truman Capote innately understood how easy it is to manipulate truth and the legal system. “Even an attorney of moderate talent can postpone doomsday year after year, for the system of appeals that pervades American jurisprudence amounts to a legalistic wheel of fortune, a game of chance, somewhat fixed in favor of the criminal, that the participants play interminably.” In Cold Blood

Gore Vidal said, “Truman Capote made lying an art…”

Scott             Lisa

Scott is a Cardinal Thinking type. His Sun, Moon, Mars, and Jupiter are in the sign of Libra. That’s a lot of Libra. Scott has Scorpio rising and three planets in Scorpio. That’s a lot of fixity in the Feeling department. Scott is head ruled, but soft hearted. Much of his emotional growth can be attributed to his partner Lisa, who is a Cardinal Feeling type. Her Sun, Venus, and Uranus are in Cancer. She’s heart ruled, but also a strategic thinker. She has to in order to partner well with Scott. Scott and Lisa balance each other beautifully. Scott’s strong, firm, hardworking hands have designed and built sustainable housing, planted and tended bountiful gardens, and nourished community. Scott is also a Tai Chi master, baker, musician, song writer, and friend. www.pompanuck.org.

susan alancraigSusan was born on the same day and year as Scott. She has the same planets at the same degrees. You’d think their hands would be very similar, but they’re very different. Susan has Capricorn (Cardinal) rising. Observe the separation between her head and life line. Susan has long index fingers. She’s ambitious, but in a very different way than Scott. Notice how the fingers on her right (dominant) hand lean towards the index finger. As a giver, she has traversed much of the Third World with her loving partner Orin, helping less fortunate people have better lives. Her communication and language skills are refined. Susan sings in a chorale, her wonderful voice her instrument. She’s a great documentary photographer (all my website photos), gardener, musician, and friend.

Cousin RichieMy Cousin Richie, Libra extraordinaire, philosopher, sculptor, and inventor; created Tangle, The Infinite Sculpture (designer series of interactive, interlocking, plastic elbows). Our mothers were sisters. We share the ancestral “happiness”, and “seeker” genes. I once said to Richie, “If you put the same religious fervor into saving the world as you have into plastic elbows, we’d be saved”. He replied, “I am saving the world, one Tangle at a time” He meant it.

Dalai LamaRichie has sold tens of millions of Tangles worldwide. I ran into a mutual friend on the streets of NYC who said he visited a monastery in Tibet and saw a picture of the Dalai Lama with a chrome Tangle in his lap. I wasn’t surprised. When I visited Richie at his gift show booth in NYC, he was talking with a very conservative buyer from Wal-Mart. I leaned closer to overhear what he was saying, “Let me show you the only product in this show worth more than money”.

 

The hardest task in reading hands is learning to judge hands. One person’s long, rectangular, and firm assessment can be another’s short, square, and soft appraisal. Rigorous practice is necessary to learn to observe and judge hands. Few of us are pure types. You may look at Cousin Richie’s fingers and see them as too short for a thinking type. I admit that if I didn’t know Richie, I may have seen his fingers differently, but the opposition in his symbolism is very powerful. Knowing Richie’s astrology and behavior has influenced how I see his hands. Dominant Libra opposes Aries as autumn opposes spring. Odysseus’s strategy fanned the flames of Jason’s passion on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Astute planning still fans the flames of passion in the 21st Century.

GaryMy brother Gary has a Pisces sun, a mutable feeling type. With Libra hands, he behaves more like a cardinal thinking type. Gary is a geriatric psychiatrist. I threatened to become one of his craziest patients, but then as a Gemini, I decided not to get old. Gary’s Libra temperament gracefully deals with the most stressful situations. Pisces gives Gary the ability to have a natural empathy and intuition that many Libras lack. Gary is a great psychiatrist, husband, father, brother, son, and friend.

Heart line touching head lineYou don’t have to be an expert palmist to see certain truths in hands. When the end of a heart line dips down to touch the beginning of a headline, it’s unlikely a person will verbalize their deeper feelings, especially negative emotions. A rational mind controls a very impressionable heart. Add a short index finger and that will wreak havoc on a person’s self-esteem. It makes trying to offer advice to anyone with that combination a challenge for someone who wants to help. When you discuss personal history, you may learn a parent was emotionally or physically absent during the person’s formative years.

Mohandas GandhiOne highly principled Libra was Mohandas Gandhi, lawyer, political, spiritual leader, and civil rights champion in early twentieth century India. He promoted non-violent disobedience and began India’s freedom movement. Gandhi must have had huge empathy and unshakable conviction to overcome the inertia of his short index fingers. Dennis Kucinich, a Libra, and a long shot in the 2004 presidential campaign, promised to make non-violence a priority by establishing a “Department of Peace”. Russian president Vladimir Putin is a Libra. He was nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Bruce Springstein “The Boss”, has captivated masses for 30+ years with his charisma. John Lennon and Jim Henson were also Libras who mesmerized masses of followers. “Imagine there’s no country, / It isn’t hard to do. / Nothing to kill or die for, / And no religion, too. / Imagine all the people / Living life in peace”  John Lennon (1940-1980)

SleepingBeautySleeping Beauty symbolizes the search for self through other. Prince Charming (Aries) rescues SB from her hundred year sleep. He bestows a magic kiss that enables her to awaken and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Many Libras have unrealistic expectations of relationships that end up disappointing them in reality. I remind them that there are many more frogs and beasts than princes. Libras want to be married. A marriage license may be a legally binding contract, but it doesn’t guarantee love.

Winnie the PoohWinnie the Pooh (Libra) tries to find balance in his life by reasoning “think, think, think”. He always manages to get a pot full of honey for himself. Christopher Robin (Aquarius) knows what’s best for everyone. Winnie lives in the hundred-acre wood with his friends, Piglet (Gemini), Rabbit (Virgo), Roo (Saggitarius), Tigger (Leo), and Eeyore (Capricorn).

Everyone has Libra, Venus, and a 7th house in their astrological symbolism. Deep down, we know what’s honest, true, and fair. Most of us have ethical and moral values and boundaries. We also know right from wrong and fear the consequences of our betrayals. It’s too easy to analyze, rationalize, and compartmentalize our bad habits and behaviors. “Laws keep honest people honest”, “Locks keep honest people out”, and “Contracts are only as good as the people who sign them” are aphorisms that describe Libra.

Tales of Cindy and Ella – Two Faces of Virgo

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”  Stephen King (9/21/47 – Virgo)

Virgo - Cindy

You don’t have to be a Virgo (8/23–9/22) to have dominant Virgo symbolism embedded in your psyche. Where the sun was when you were born does not define your character. Palmistry and astrology share the same western mythological archetypes and the same dysfunctional families and relationships – and how they live on in our psyches and lives.

As one of twelve basic archetypes, Virgo is best when discriminating, reliable, modest, and orderly service is required. Ego gratification is not a primary motivation for Virgos, however, it’s important to value and appreciate them. They often don’t ask enough for themselves, but they do know what they’re worth and want to be appreciated and rewarded accordingly. Virgo hands have square palms and short fingers. They tend to be less meaty and more flexible at the joints than Taurus types. In Capricorn types, the top knot on the fingers is often more well developed. Add well-developed second knots, square fingertips, and short fingernails to any archetype, you get more Virgo qualities. Virgos are reputed for cleaning up everyone else’s messes. Some are overly critical and meticulous. If you bite your fingernails, you’re probably critical, no matter your type.

Most short fingered people tend to see the whole picture and dislike details. Virgo types; however, are pragmatic about details and facts. They just plain do what needs to be done. They sometimes lack breadth and long-range vision. Virgos must work hard to feel useful and they need to cherish every inch of what they earn. Virgo rules healthcare.  Accounting, medical, nursing, social work, health food, maintenance, and cleaning professions are magnets for Virgos. Some Virgos worry too much about their personal health.

Cinderella is incarnate in millions of women. She’s a Virgo archetype who faithfully swept the cinders, scrubbed the floors, made the beds, and served the meals to her evil stepmother and stepsisters. Cinderella dutifully served her family while they treated her like shit. Cinderella’s fairy godmother came along and provided the magical coach, gown, and glass slippers that helped Cinderella capture the heart of the Prince. At the stroke of midnight, Cinderella had to run away before turning back to rags. The Prince searched for Cinderella and finally found her. The glass slipper fit perfectly and they lived happily ever after. Many Cinderella types have been kissed by frogs and beasts. Few have been saved by Princes.

The following is a tale of a true life Cinderella and how her virtue overcame her evil nurture. I can confidently say that no scientific palmist who I know would ever have predicted what actually happened in Cindy’s life from her hands. Cindy was born with a pure and virtuous spirit. That made the devil mad. He worked hard to erode Cindy’s trust, promote her fear, and take away her hope. It’s hard to believe he didn’t succeed.

When I met Cindy, I was anxiously searching for someone to rent a home from my friends who were in the Peace Corp. I was responsible for their idiosyncratic house and finicky cat, which needed constant attention. I’d advertised for a tenant, but hadn’t found anyone suitable. Cindy showed up by referral at the eleventh hour. She seemed careworn to me, with missing teeth and weathered skin. The tip of a large vertical scar traveled downward from the top of her breastplate, but Cindy had an inner radiance that shown brightly. The sparkle in her eyes and the pride in her step made me confident she was right for the job.

Cindy consented to let me examine her hands. She’s a Virgo with Virgo hands (above). The number 6 in the image relates to the 6th house of work and health of the horoscope. Her square palms and short straight fingers were much healthier than I had anticipated. They were strong and firm and her skin was elastic with a healthy pink color. It was instantly clear to me that she was honest and hardworking and had no problem taking responsibility. Over the many years I’ve know Cindy, I’ve grown to admire and respect her more each day and to deeply cherish our friendship.

Cindy is a real life Cinderella. Cindy’s higher nature overcame her evil nurture. She was born to an alcoholic drug addicted prostitute who didn’t want her. Her first memory at age one was of her mother crying out in pain while strange men were beating her up. She remembers ashtrays full of stale cigarette butts that would be re-lit again and again until every last drop of nicotine was gone. Cindy’s mother routinely screamed at her and punished her for “stealing her cigarettes” when the pack was empty. When Cindy was two, she was playing by the stove. Her mother grabbed a red hot cast iron frying pan and pressed it against her innocent little hand to teach Cindy a lesson about playing near a hot stove. She still has the scar that makes that lesson hard to forget.

Cindy doesn’t remember much about her father. She knows he spent most of her formative years in prison. He was occasionally granted leave to visit his family. He began abusing Cindy sexually from the time she was 1 ½ years old. When she had begun to speak, she remembers walking into a bathroom while he was peeing. He yelled at her and lectured her about privacy and morals. Cindy didn’t get it. She had already seen, touched, and tasted his penis. Cindy had an adult cousin who was married. When he’d come over to visit with his child, he’d take Cindy into the bathroom, shove his hard penis into her mouth, then wash her mouth out with soap when he was finished because she did such a dirty thing.  She hated him.

Cindy’s mother habitually left her with strangers. Cindy had a brother who was five years older. When he was two, his mother left him in a carriage on the streets for two whole days. Cindy’s mother’s mother found him and took him to live in the “dark dank cave” she and her husband called home. He grew up with those grandparents. Cindy recalls that he was compassionate and caring towards her, though she rarely saw him. He took her to see horror movies on several occasions. One of Cindy’s most vivid and positive early memories is of the smell of a neighbor’s fried pork chops, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and homemade applesauce. Cindy was malnourished and her kind-hearted neighbor fed her when she could.

Once in a while, Cindy’s mother would drop her off at the local Catholic Church where the nuns were very nice to her. Like her fairy godmothers, they cleaned her up, gave her new clothes, and a doll. She couldn’t believe that anyone could be so nice to her. Cindy’s mother hardly recognized her when she came to pick her up. When they arrived home, she told Cindy that she was still worthless and that one day, she’d end up as a skinny little whore in a gutter. Everyone, including Cindy, thought she was probably right. Cindy fantasized about becoming a nun, but even as a young child, she already knew that she was not a virgin, nor was she baptized in the family church. She believed that she would remain in LIMBO until she’d eventually rot in HELL.

Cindy ran away. A sixteen year old girl who lived nearby took Cindy in. Cindy hid in a closet in her room for a month before this girl’s bizarre mother found out. Her mother was angry, but somehow managed to arrange with social services to get paid for Cindy’s care. Cindy didn’t get much actual caring, but at least she had a roof over her head for a while. When her foster mother threw her out, Cindy found a second foster home and lived there for a few weeks. She arrived home from school one day to find all of her stuff out on the sidewalk. Her evil foster mother, regretting the loss of her stipend, had spread nasty rumors about Cindy and got her back.

At nine years old, Cindy fainted and was dumped on the steps of the hospital. They discovered that she had a serious congenital heart problem because of her mother’s substance abuse during pregnancy. Cindy was forced to remain in the hospital for a year, mainly because no one wanted a homeless kid with serious heart problems. The doctors and social workers fell in love with Cindy, but there was not much they could do short of adopting her and no one did. Cindy has had three major heart operations at ages 14, 24, and 42.

Cindy actually had a happy foster care experience for nine whole months. It was difficult at first, because Cindy didn’t know how to respond to kindness. She hid in her room. This foster family treated her like a real human being and actually wanted to know her. They taught Cindy to sew and work with wood. Cindy began to respond well to their kindness, but her evil foster mother lied once again to social services and eventually Cindy was back with her. This sick bitch cut off all of Cindy’s long beautiful natural red hair to punish her. Cindy didn’t feel loved, but she did have some remote sense of stability and security as long as a social service was paying for her. She bonded with a stepbrother at that time and still maintains a positive relationship with him, although he’s a redneck.

As long as her evil foster mother was getting her check she didn’t care what Cindy did. At fourteen, Cindy went off to live in her own apartment that she paid for by doing factory day work for Manpower. She tried to get an education at the same time, but it was impossible. When social services came looking for Cindy, her foster mother had to track her down to get her back. She informed Cindy’s landlord that he was renting to an underage prostitute who was using his place for business. Cindy once again found her stuff in the hallway and locks changed, though she had paid a month’s rent in advance.

Cindy’s heart gave out. She ended up back in the hospital, having her first major open heart surgery. Three weeks later, Cindy was forced to go back to her foster home, only to be thrown out again. In a state of hopeless desperation, Cindy asked one of the men whom she had met at Manpower if she could stay with him. He was arrogant and physically aggressive towards her, but she decided to put up with him, since she didn’t know what else to do. She tried to physically distance herself from him, but eventually he got her pregnant and she had her first child at age sixteen. Meanwhile, he was becoming more and more abusive – beating her up and slamming her hand in a door to punish her for not being a worthy servant. Cindy lasted for two years – long enough for her to get pregnant again.

While Cindy was pregnant for the second time, she unexpectedly received a letter out of the blue from her father that contained a month old front-page newspaper clipping about how her brother had been brutally shot and killed. Reading about her brother threw Cindy onto an emotional roller coaster. He was a kind and caring person who worked so hard to rise above his circumstances, only to be violently murdered. He had gotten himself educated and was working in a nursing home. Cindy’s partner scolded and punished Cindy for mourning. “You hardly knew him”, he complained. He wanted nothing to interfere with his clean house and hot food which had to be served in a timely fashion.

Cindy ran away with her two girls and found her own place. She lived in poverty, but Cindy was extremely resourceful, growing much of her own food, chopping her own firewood, fixing her home, and sewing clothes for herself and her children. She worked odd jobs like cleaning other people’s homes, care taking, and painting. Cindy managed to create the best life she could for her kids. She was deeply committed to caring for them and giving them a good education.

Cindy attributes having children to saving herself. She rose with grace, strength, and wisdom to her challenges and responsibilities with a soul full of love and dedication. Cindy did a remarkable job. Her kids have endured their own relationship challenges and become strong healthy women with their own families. Cindy has five grand children who adore her. When I interviewed Cindy for this article, she was working as a tech person in a hospital; drawing blood, wiping butts, and cleaning bedpans with dignity. The patients were blessed to have her. Cindy’s long term plan was to earn a nursing degree and pay for her grandkid’s college educations.

As I listened to Cindy’s story, I felt an uncontrollable rage rising in me. How could so many people be so sick? I imagined horrible ways of getting revenge on the monsters who abused Cindy. She was in a different place, however, having forgiven everyone who had ever hurt her. “I feel sad and sorry for them”, she told me. Cindy hasn’t found her prince yet, but when she does, he will be one of the luckiest men in the world.

I once had a girlfriend who was a Virgo with fine skinned Virgo hands. I’ll call her Ella. I arrived as Ella’s prince, but departed as her persecutor. Ella frequented a cafe’ in Soho every morning at a certain time and sat in a certain seat. She’d peacefully sip coffee and write in her journal. This cafe had excellent coffee and pastries that were served by attractive hip young waiters and waitresses in a rustic natural décor. I stopped by for coffee a couple of times a week. Ella and I would nod and acknowledge each other.

One morning, Ella asked me if I’d like to join her at her table. She was healthy looking and attractive in an earthy way. She had long very dark silky hair, large sensitive eyes, a rosy complexion, full pink lips, and shapely hips. I could see from her square palms and short squarish fingers that she was a practical type. Her conical finger tips informed me of her intuitive and aesthetic side. Her knotty finger joints and short nails clued me to Virgo qualities. She was addicted to order and routine. I knew that Gemini (me) with Virgo (Ella) was like Peter Pan with Wendy. I could hardly believe how incompatible Ella and I would become as we got to know each other.

Ella set her sights on me. I don’t think I ever had a woman pursue me so relentlessly before. It was too late before I realized our relationship had no future. Gemini types prefer to flit from flower to flower like a butterfly. Obligation, responsibility, and guilt are like bad tasting medicine. Ella would call, “I was thinking of you while I was shopping today and purchased a beautiful piece of tuna big enough for the two of us. Would you like to come over to my apartment for dinner?” Her timing was impeccable. I’d be on the verge of forking down Chunk Light, straight from the can.

Ella set a beautiful table with perfectly matching tableware, flowers, candlelight, and soft music. Her home was spotless and she always smelled freshly showered. She was smart, sensual, and amazingly patient. Resistance was futile. At first, I’d eat and run. Ella offered to massage me. In hindsight, that was the beginning of the end.

I began sleeping over regularly. It was like being a kid again, only better. Ella worked so hard to please me. I rationalized – if she wants to, why not? Peter Pan needed Wendy to darn his socks and sew his shadow back on. If Ella wanted more than I was capable of, I’d just have to fly back to Neverland. Ella and I were literally too much like Peter and Wendy and just as destined to eventually part ways.

It wasn’t until I moved into Ella’s apartment that I realized the consequences of my choice and actions. While Virgo loves consistency, reliability, and dependability, Gemini hates being restricted and confined. Ella knew that, but secretly hoped that I’d change. She adapted as much as she could to my needs as she worked hard to try to change me. I did need more structure in my life, but I felt like I was sacrificing a huge chunk of my freedom in exchange for that structure. Ella provided a positive framework. She’d gently wake me at 7:30 am, having already quietly stretched for an hour, cleaned the house, organized, showered, and set a beautiful breakfast on an elegant table awaiting my arrival. At first, I thought, ‘this is too good to be true’. Our relationship felt incestuous. Ella was more like my mother or sister, than my lover. It was easy to please Ella, which added fuel to her desire to love and nourish me.

I marveled at Ella’s discipline, structure, and focus, however, I began resenting her routines as I realized that they were directing my life. I had an idyllic situation and yet I was feeling trapped. If only I were a Capricorn or a Taurus, I’d have thought that I was Adam with Eve in Eden. Ella would look at her watch and say “It’s time to make love now if you’d like”. I began feeling shame and guilt for not being able to love Ella as she wanted me to.

‘Am I insane?’, I thought.  Ella loves me. She even accepts my unpredictability and unconventionality, while I’m resenting her lack of spontaneity and secretly strategizing my getaway. She’d have been better off with another practical or feeling type, instead of a thinking type. I finally faced the handwriting on the wall, deeply wounding Ella when I announced, “I need to breathe”. We shed a lot of tears together for different reasons. I slinked away with bowed head, a sad heart, and a deep sense of relief.

My Road to Redemption

Your Life is in Your Hands copy

‘LIFE IS HARD AND THEN YOU DIE’

It’s not easy to let go of old habits. It’s even harder to stay with the wrong habits for the wrong reasons. One advantage for me of being an ‘adaptable’ thinking type is that I can go with the flow. Major catastrophes in my life have had corresponding compensations. Being constantly forced to change my thinking and circumstances has illuminated my path to knowledge and wisdom and has also been my price for humility.

David and I had launched our custom furniture business wearing rose colored glasses. Overly-ambitious, under-capitalized, and with an abundance of talent and energy, we were ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, we failed to acknowledge the literal handwriting on our wall. We had recently signed the lease for a new work space, which we thought was absolutely perfect for us because of its fabulous location in NOHO, reasonable rent, and an electrical system that was already set up perfectly for our needs. We realized when we moved in, however, that the previous lessor of the space (a furniture maker) had painted his final message (above) in black enamel paint with a four-inch brush on the largest white surface in the shop. He died there alone, miserable, and suffering with lung cancer while tortuously fulfilling his final work obligations.

David and I were concerned about the implications of his message for our business. How could we exorcise his dark karma from our work space? We white washed over it several times, but somehow it managed to migrate through to the surface again and again. Then we installed a layer of sheetrock over it. Like placing a Band-Aid on a compound fracture, our repair made the new sheetrock a constant reminder of the tumultuous trials we were going through and how they were linked to the negative karmic energy that it concealed. As our business failed, it wasn’t the loss of money and credibility that was most painful for me. I’d experienced that before in my candle business. Someone who I loved was in desperate trouble and I felt helpless.

Just prior to the all too proverbial ‘shit hitting the fan’, David asked me to share “the most amazing experience of his life”. I had no idea what he was talking about or what kind of trouble he was in. He inspired me to take a toke of Crack and I did. I felt godlike for a moment, and then had the scariest headache of my life. I instantly acquired empathy for people who get migraines and swore off Crack for all eternity.

David never got the headache. He craved that first godlike experience with every desperate attempt to re-experience it. He became crazy for Crack and cursed by his addiction. He’d call me for money in the middle of the night, knowing that would make me even angrier at him and more miserable about my own career choices. I urgently wanted to help David, but I also needed to help myself and my family.

Design, management, and marketing were my turf. David had been in charge of production. He was an intuitive type and great at it. With his strong, healthy, and creative hands, he could craft or fix anything. Suddenly, I was doing it all. Our workers needed guidance to fulfill the work required to complete our production deadlines. I hadn’t had much actual experience being a foreman, furniture maker, or maintenance man. I was also inexperienced with creating jigs to help expedite production. David could effortlessly tell by the sounds in the shop if and when there was a problem.

Our landlord, suppliers, and clients were upset with us (an understatement). I was struggling to meet basic responsibilities and obligations. These circumstances made me bonkers and also attracted the corresponding compensations for this insanity into my life. The most valuable lesson I learned was – I didn’t have to go through this experience alone. Aside from Joanna, my family, and my close friends who are always there for me, I needed people who could help me manage my reality. I was blessed to find two.

Angelo KeithAngelo Keith rescued me in my time of need. He had been a friend of the former shop owner, having worked for him as a furniture maker. Angelo helped his friend die with as much grace and dignity as humanly possible.

 

Angelo heard about our (my) dilemma and showed up at the eleventh hour, asking me to put him to work. He had many of David’s skills and then some. Much older, wiser, and more experienced, he’d quip, “Jesus was a woodworker”. When you need character building experience resulting in eventual martyrdom or sainthood, be a woodworker. Angelo never mentioned financial remuneration, which was beyond total disaster. I’ll always treasure him for that. Joanna and I came to love his family, too.

Angelo was like a one-man shop. He was as strong as an ox and as clever as a fox. He’d design jigs for doing tasks that never even occurred to me. He could lift a whole large upper cabinet with one hand and screw it to the wall with the other. I used to affectionately call him “Sumo”, short for Japanese wrestler. His hands were thinking type, like mine, with square palms and fairly long widely spread fingers. His palms were much thicker than mine and harder with tougher more calloused skin. Angelo had a strong ‘practical’ backup and was much more physical than me. Meanwhile, he had a first class mind. We’d walk in the woods together and blue-sky think in order to solve real problems. We’d construct unusual sculptures out of sticks and stones along the way. As a friend ‘in need’, I learned a lot from Angelo who was a friend ‘in deed’.

Glass, Metal, and Tabletop by Angelo Keith

Glass, Metal Work, and Tabletop by Angelo Keith

Angelo helped me cope with my challenges on the outside. I also needed help with my challenges on the inside. I decided to find the right psychotherapist to help me sort out my issues. I researched Freudians, Jungians, Reichians, and Adlerians. I eventually chose a Gestalt psychotherapist because my needs felt immediate. Because we’ve lost touch and I don’t have permission, I’ll call my therapist ‘Ian’, for all the ‘ians’ who I didn’t choose. I had a healthy childhood and had no desire to rehash my early experiences looking for clues and reasons for my current challenges. I was lucky and blessed to attract another unique fixed thinking type who would help me find my way back to being myself. As an adaptable thinking type, I tend to attract other thinking types. In astrology, Gemini is mutable, Libra is cardinal, and Aquarius is a fixed type.

Aquarius image

Angelo was both an Aquarius sun sign and a fixed thinking hand type. That combines his behavior with his psyche. People think that Aquarius is a water sign. They see a water bearer pouring water out of a jug, along with a symbol  that looks like waves. Aquarius is a thinking type. Water embodies unconscious and feeling. The water bearer is pouring ‘feeling’ out of the jug in favor of ‘thinking’. I relate well with Aquarians.

Once a week, I’d weave a melodramatic web of intrigue for Ian, hoping to receive his insight, understanding, and sympathy. When I’d finished, Ian would say, “So what else is new?”  He’d clean his nails or play with his new electronic gadget. Why didn’t he look into my eyes? Was he listening? How dare he waste my time and money? I was pissed and confronted him. That was the start of my healing.

Ian knew when to look into my eyes. I’d say “but”, he’d say “and”.  I’d say “can’t”, he’d say “don’t want to!” Ian noticed my every gesture and facial expression. I couldn’t get away with a thing. It soon occurred to me that maybe I was taking myself too seriously.

Ian’s unorthodox methods and clever techniques made me realize it was possible to throw a switch on the inside and change my attitude. His thinking type hands were a cross between mine and Angelo’s with square palms and long fingers held widely apart. My hands were very flexible while Ian’s were very stiff like Angelo’s. I was a “jack of all trades”. He was a “specialist”. One of many tasks Ian accomplished was to help me find focus and clarity in my thinking. Ian’s palms and fingers were thicker than mine, but softer and smoother than Angelo’s and his fingers were less knotty and fingertips more round. Ian’s strong will, determination, and focus was mental as opposed to physical. I doubt he ever made or fixed anything. I sought Ian’s friendship as well as his therapy. He was fascinated by my passion for reading hands.

As founder of an institute for Gestalt Psychology in NYC, Ian suggested that I enroll in an intermediate study group. I participated weekly for two years and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Psychology compliments metaphysics and provides a strong foundation for counseling. “It’s much easier to see than to know what to say about what you see”.

I learned to carefully listen and closely observe others from Ian. I also learned that it’s not what you see, but what you say and how you say it that matters in the final analysis.

I once asked Ian, “What do you say to your craziest clients?”  He told me, “I tell them to act normal or someone will come along and lock them up.” My fascination and curiosity about human character would soon lead me to exploring criminally insane people.

How I Became the Guru of Garbage – part 2

Necessity truly is the mother of invention.  I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to make money while trying to make a difference in the world. I needed to generate more income. While working in my tiny study in the back of our apartment one afternoon, I began thinking about how many people have small living spaces and how much stuff they have. It’s not easy to stay organized and uncluttered. Even though I’d given up designing products for the sake of fashion, I figured I could still design something useful, environmentally correct, and hopefully make money at the same time.

Many people work out of their homes and don’t have a private work space. It’s a good idea to conceal your work when you’re not working, even if it’s already separate from the rest of your living space. I estimated that a 6’ X 6’ X 2’ deep box can hold a small home office and also open out to become a room divider. I sketched a few possibilities and then tested various materials and manufacturing processes. When I felt confident that my idea would work, I presented it to Lisa Smith, a successful furniture designer. Lisa liked the idea and offered to let me use her model making shop, photo studio, and furniture industry contacts in exchange for a partnership on the project.

Lisa and I fabricated scale models out of natural long lasting materials like jute, hemp, and homosote. We approached major office furniture manufacturers like Knoll and Steelcase, who nibbled on our bait, but didn’t bite. We were told that it would take a minimum $50,000 investment to fabricate full scale prototypes and test market them. Nobody was willing to advance the money. We had hoped to walk away with a deposit and a royalty contract. Unfortunately, our back burners were already overflowing with unrequited projects like our ‘Office in a Box’.

OFFICE in a BOX

Office in a Box

Office in a Box 2

I mentioned earlier that I have very strong Scorpio symbolism in my horoscope. Saturn and Pluto straddle my Midheaven, conjunct in the sign of Leo. Pluto rules Garbage. Saturn is the Guru. NY Newsday, Metropolis Magazine, and Fox TV – ‘Good Day NY’ serially dubbed me “The Guru of Garbage”. Garbage was a weird distinction, but I figured if the shoe fits, “Recycle, Reuse, or Recreate” it. I became internationally known for my innovative uses of recycled materials. I was the focus of numerous magazine and newspaper articles and television appearances. I participated in panel discussions, spoke at universities, gave workshops, and presented my creations in museums, galleries, and traveling exhibitions around the world. I was featured as a successful ecological designer in German and Japanese newspapers, magazines, and television.

During my seven year tenure as Guru of Garbage, everyone wanted to contribute to my cause by giving me his or her unwanted trash. Manufacturers began sending samples of their manufacturing waste. I received everything from truckloads of trimmings of cork and various plastics and composite materials, to barrels of greasy sludge. They thought I could perform alchemy and make treasure from their trash. I appreciated the sentiment and valued the challenge, but the process of turning trash into treasure is lot more work than reward, except for the high esoteric value. Trash to treasure is a metaphor for transforming liabilities into assets. Saturn (Lead) can be turned into (Gold) the Sun.

I forgot to mention that my Guru of Garbage days coincided with the birth of my daughter, Cassie, and her early childhood. I hoped to make a better world for her. Even at two years old, Cassie was well aware of my preoccupation with trash. As we walked along the streets of NYC together, she’d constantly be bending over to pick up some gross and disgusting thing that some person had thrown on the sidewalk. “Here daddy!” she’d exclaim. I’d thank her, then walk to the nearest trash can and throw it away. The best part was when others noticed. They were either inspired or shamed into picking something up off the sidewalk. They’d always look and smile at us as we acknowledged their good deed with a nod of approval. Sometimes, I wondered whether I was blessed or cursed by my obsession to make a difference.

The following several pages contain pictures of trash that I transformed into treasure.

Pallet landfill to conference room

Reincarnated lamp and mirror

Thrown

Odds and Ends

One day I was driving down a country road in upstate NY and noticed a couple of weathered farmers sitting in front of a broken down barn. I was searching for old wooden planks that they’d be willing to sell. They took me up to an old hay loft and showed me a stack of dusty rough cut lumber that had probably been laying there for at least thirty years. I had no idea what kind of wood it was, but it was heavy. I felt sure it was some kind of hardwood. I bought the whole stack for $10. They helped load it into my station wagon. When I got back to my workshop, I ran the rough lumber through the wood planer. It turned out to be beautifully aged solid cherry with a lot of rough edges and ends and lots of knots. Most woodworkers cut these defects away in the process of furniture making. I decided to design defective furniture from the get go. I found the imperfections very beautiful and used them as design elements. My client was in the recycling business and loved my creation!

Cherry Desk

It’s rewarding to transform something useless into something useful. It’s also great to be loved and appreciated by family, friends, colleagues, students, and clients. Without real financial support, however, it can be extremely challenging. I found myself delving more deeply each day into the mother of all garbage – Psychic Garbage. Stay tuned.

How I Became the Guru of Garbage – part 1

Remember how confused I was about what to do next as I terminated my product manufacturing phase? Suddenly and unexpectedly, I had an epiphany while strolling through Bloomingdale’s. I was scrutinizing how my products were being merchandised and sold and a question popped into my mind. If everything I designed never existed, would it make a bit of difference to anyone besides me?

“You get more money for fashion” had always been my mantra. Now, no matter how I rationalized the usefulness of my creations, their existence festered in my mind. While I prospered, millions of gallons of fossil fuels were depleted; air was polluted, water was  wasted, and landfills that were already inundated with award winning design, became further adorned with no longer fashionable products of my creation. I was beginning my metamorphosis from egomaniac to ecomaniac.

Recycling CredenzaOther designers who I knew were still trying to invent the ultimate gimmick that would make them rich and famous. Not me. I’d design environmentally useful and long lasting products. I began designing inexpensive eye-catching insulating window treatments to help save energy. I created stylish recycling furniture out of recycled materials to help home recyclers Recycling organic wastefashionably and efficiently sort their trash. It seemed like everyone’s enthusiasm was infectious, however, who would speculate on the hefty initial investment of tooling, materials, packaging, and inventory? One manufacturer who I presented the concept to declared my idea as a ‘passing fad’ and dubbed it “yuppie garbage cans”.

 

I became painfully conscious of humanity’s environmental problems while I agonized over my own personal wastefulness and ever-accumulating trash. A few months earlier I’d imagined buying my own private jet, now I was torturing myself over what to do with a bottle cap. My rapidly decreasing income forced a change in lifestyle. I moved from a luxurious mid-town loft-sublet to a very claustrophobic rent stabilized tenement apartment in Little Italy. I rarely stayed there because I spent nights at my girlfriend Joanna’s tiny tenement apartment in the East Village. I had lived alone in a vast sky lit penthouse loft. Now, I was sharing a large windowed closet with Joanna, cockroaches, mice, and noisy neighbors.

Unfortunately, ‘at-a-boys’ and ‘pats on the back’ don’t pay the rent. I began teaching part time continuing education classes at the New School for Social Research in NYC – furniture making, woodcarving, creative woodworking, model making, and plastics workshops. I also taught an ‘Invention’ course at Parsons School of Design and an ‘Industrial Design’ class at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

My primary income came from designing and fabricating exclusive furniture for designers and architects who served wealthy people. Over time, it became harder for me to cope with the pollution. Splinters, sawdust, and schlepping were already more than enough character building experience for me. I refused to work with toxic materials, which eliminated most composite materials, plastic laminates, adhesives, finishes, and clients. Then the straw that broke the camel’s back revealed its nasty face. My close friend and business partner in our custom furniture making shop surprised everyone by suddenly and unexpectedly becoming addicted to ‘Crack’. David took one toke and was hooked. Our work was being featured in major architecture and design magazines. At the same time, financial pressures and production deadlines were stressing us out. I had to hide the petty cash. I’d come to work in the morning and find cigarette butts standing on their filters all over the shop machinery. I cringed when the phone rang late at night. Come to think of it, I cringed when the phone rang during the day too. Our clients, who were mainly architects and designers, began telling me that they were disappointed in me and our suppliers were asking for money that I didn’t have. After calling the cocaine hotline a couple of times, David’s family and I intervened. We shipped him off to rehab in Puerto Rico. While he was away, I hastily liquidated our beloved workshop for a fraction of its value.

It dawned on me that by teaching industrial design, I was inadvertently polluting the world by helping others to manifest their ideas for personal profit and glory. I began                     teaching ‘Designing with Garbage’ at Parsons School of Design. I’d say to my students, “Wake up and smell the garbage”. Most design ends up as trash. Industrial, commercial, and post-consumer waste is the Urban Ore of the future. At first, people laughed at us picking materials out of the trash, but the more my students and I worked with these materials, the more we realized how easy it is to keep consuming and how a recycling closed loop needs to develop its own infrastructure.  A community’s plastic milk and detergent bottles whose original use has been fulfilled can have a durable long lasting reincarnation as a deck, fence, park bench, or marine piling. Below, two of my favorite students from my ‘Designing with Garbage’ class at Parsons School of Design are working on their projects. If you click on Bobby Hansson’s photo, you can see a live presentation of his project on YouTube.  I promise you’ll be entertained.

Bobby Hansson - Designing with GarbagePaul Miller - Designing with Garbage

Concentrating on environmental issues was both enlightening and frustrating. I swung between incredible optimism and idealism and extreme cynicism and sarcasm. I know ‘every little bit helps’, but big issues like public education and environmental policy are what need to change. Dealing with these problems requires a fundamental shift in our society. Designers can play a vital role. When designers select materials to be used in a product they predetermine whether sustainable resources are used, how much energy will be consumed during production, what pollutants will be generated, and finally, how it will be disposed of, recycled, or reused.

Sitting on compacted cansUnless responsible products are designed and promoted and substantial markets developed, recycling will fail. Billions of tons of accumulated plastics, mixed glass,  construction debris, wooden shipping pallets, rubber tires, batteries, organic waste, and  many other materials will be land-filled or incinerated and eventually end up in our  lungs, blood, and genes. We’re being genetically modified by our lifestyle choices. These materials can be reincarnated into useful and long lasting products.

 

 

New York NewsdayI identified with Don Quixote in my Designing with Garbage days. At least windmills don’t pollute. They should collect solar as well as wind energy to make them more efficient. Solar energy coatings can also be applied to roof tops and surfaces that are exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, there are more ways to collect than store energy.

 

Gallery of Trash

My all-time favorite industrial design student, Wendy Brawer, became my co-teacher for a ‘Design for the Environment’ class at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Wendy and I were on NYC’s Solid Waste and Citywide Recycling Advisory Boards and often spoke to local community boards about managing they’re ever accumulating trash.  We also promoted the use of recycled plastics in NYC’s waterfront. Governmental bureaucracy, lack of adequate funding, and rigid building codes rendered most projects impracticable. We participated in as many events as possible, even though they were financially unrewarding. It’s easy to find pro-bono work and difficult to find true patrons and real financial support for social causes. Our clients would inquire, “Why’s it so expensive? It’s only Garbage!”

Wendy is the only student I’ve ever had that actually practiced what I preached. Even though she had no degree in Industrial Design, she became head of the environmental committee for the IDSA (Industrial Design Society of America). She also became Designer in Residence at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. Wendy created an amazing ecological “Green Map” system WWW.GREENMAP.ORG.

I’m very proud of her.

Wendy Brawer - Greenmap logo

Wendy is a Cancer (feeling type) sun sign. She’s actually an intuitive type. She has ambitious index fingers on rectangular palms with short fingers. Her personality is much more like an Aries. She’s passionate, inspired most of the time, spontaneous, and extremely proactive. Her separated head and life line symbolize an innate dislike for bureaucracy and a natural rebelliousness. With fingers held closely together, Wendy is a great team player and a fabulous partner. Just ask her remarkable husband Ray. Check out the budding mapmakers below. Wendy has inspired many thousands of green minded people of all ages all over the planet.

Budding Greenmappers

 

Wendy's recycling container

Budding mapmakers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy’s “Stamp Out Junk Mail Kit” helped raise consumer awareness of paper waste.

Wendy's stamp out junk mail flier

One of Wendy and my pet projects was “Energy Savings Stamps”. We approached Con Edison and Long Island Lighting on the east coast and Pacific Gas & Electric on the west coast with our concept to include a page of stamps in their monthly or quarterly billing statements. Consumers could paste stamps into their calendars to remind them to perform simple very important energy savings tasks. The utilities claimed they liked our concept, but for one reason or another they ultimately rejected it. We thought about going to the US Postal Service, but didn’t. Talk about bureaucracies.

Energy Saving Stamps

While Wendy and I taught Design for the Environment at Cooper Union, we initiated a class project to raise consumer awareness about transportation issues. There were so many possibilities. Imagine the peace, quiet, fresh air, and friendliness that could occur in a culture of alternative transportation. Envision designated highways free of heavy dangerous oil consuming and polluting vehicles. Visualize frequent stops for healthy foods and local services, maintenance, recreation, maps, and directories. Picture practical comfortable human and electric powered bikes, scooters, and work vehicles. What about vehicles with light weight frames and inflatable bodies?

The potential for inflatable technology has barely been tapped. Physical damage and personal injuries could be greatly reduced by building powerful durable airbags into car bumpers so that they can inflate outward on designated impact. Why wait for the vehicle to reach the passengers before the air bag inflates? Cars could actually bounce instead of trounce. Why not design inflatable outerwear for motorcycling and extreme sporting events? Why can’t gigantic baffled plasticized fiberglass airbags be built into the structure of buildings and bridges? Specific vibrations inflate airbags and temporarily hold structures together while many people escape certain death or injury. Why not retrofit existing structures?  With so many definite possibilities, we wished we had the resources to speculate.

Inflatable Window InsulationAirbags can also be used as inflatable insulation for maintaining a hot or cold environment. We can keep a six-pack or a walk in freezer cold or maintain warmth in a large industrial building. Drafty windows, doors, and attics can be permanently or temporarily retrofitted with clear air filled vinyl mattresses that easily inflate, deflate, and interlock and come in stock and adjustable sizes.

 

Our class decided to try to raise consumer awareness about automotive waste. A huge auto show was coming up soon. We talked the powers that be into letting us have a small space (for free) in the basement of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC, along with several other alternative transportation advocates and inventors of electric and human powered vehicles. For anyone who has never been to one, auto shows are a lot of glitzy over-priced vehicles that go much faster than any speed limits. Scantily clad models with an overabundance of pheromones are objectified to help glamorize and sell cars. Our class produced T-shirts and bumper stickers. We barely sold anything and were regarded as heretics and renegades, but thousands of people got to see our messages. None of us had any regrets.

Bumper Stickers 1

 

Bumper Stickers 2

 

The Esoteric Power of the Sun

Back in the early ‘80’s, a manufacturer who I had designed drinking mugs for asked me if I’d design something metaphysical for them. The collection of astrology mugs below is the final outcome. They were designed for department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Masculine sun signs were printed in 24 carat gold and feminine signs in platinum. Buyers loved them. Unfortunately, customers began returning mugs when they got damaged in their dishwasher, even though they had been merchandised as ‘wash by hand’ only. My astrology mug collection was discontinued despite my suggestion to try printing it again with dishwasher safe colorful inks.

Astrology Mug Collection

Allow me to share a unique experience that strengthened my faith in the power of the sun.

Solar Talisman MugOne dreary mid-winter day in 1998, I sat in my study staring at a cobalt blue cup featuring a radiant yellow sun surrounded by stars. It had been a gift for speaking about ‘the horoscope in the hands’ at a NCGR (National Council for Geocosmic Research) conference for astrologers in NYC. I was a faculty member and their resident palmist for about 20 years. I felt inspired by my sun cup and rummaged around for a small mug shot of myself. After I cut out my face, I glued it to the center of the sun. Then I laminated several layers of crystal clear film over that. While I worked, I imagined how I could be more like Apollo, the Greek Sun God. As I finished burnishing the edges, I raised the cup in my left hand to observe my handiwork and the phone rang, “Hello, I’m the Public Program Coordinator for the National Design Museum. We’re curating a major Solar Energy Exhibition this June and are wondering whether you’d be interested in conducting the Lecture / Workshop series on the Symbolism of the Sun?”

I nearly fell out of my chair. I’d experienced synchronicity, but this was unbelievable. How could a talisman work so quickly? Confidently, I replied, “You’ve come to the right place.” The magic of the sun materialized the moment I combined the esoteric power of the sun with clear intent and action. My life instantly became sunnier.

Hex SignI started designing a lot of talismans after that. A talisman is anything including a simple piece of paper with a scribble on it that’s symbolic of something that you want to impress on your psyche to create change or to reinforce something that must be strengthened. Amulets and hex signs are symbols that are frequently used for protection. You see a lot of hex signs in Amish country, blessing barns and homes and protecting livestock from harm.

It’s important to realize that everything has a natural correspondence. The more that people tune in to their natural connections, the more powerful the effect of the talisman will be. Your sun sign is a dominant archetype in your psyche. The sun corresponds to gold and diamonds. Gold and diamonds worn on the ring finger (sun) is marriage magic.

The sun in Leo (July 23 – August 23) rules the fifth house of the natural horoscope. The Sun’s day is Sunday. The Sun’s most powerful hour is noon. Other gemstones besides diamonds that the sun rules are amber and topaz. In Kabala, Tiphareth corresponds to the Sun and the number six, which balances the tree of life. The Crown Chakrah is ruled by the sun. The heart is the organ ruled by the sun. Solar archetypes exist in every culture: GREEK – Apollo and Hercules, JUDAIC – Samson, EGYPTIAN – Osiris, AFRICAN – Anansi, INDIAN – Narasimha, HINDU –Vishnu, PERSION – Mithra, JAPANESE – Amaterasu, NORSE – Odin, IRISH – Lugh, and   ARTHURIAN – Percival. The Lion King and Goldilocks are solar fairy tales. Lots of Leos are myths in their own minds. Musical links for the sun are the key of C and most instruments. Solar trees are citrus, walnut, bay, and palm. Solar herbs, plants, and scents are sun flower, yellow poppy, saffron, marigold, cinnamon, pepper, peony, musk, honey, frankincense, rice, and all aromatic herbs. Aroma of Frankincense (Christ and the Nativity) when used in ritual magic brings good health, wealth, success, acclaim, mental clarity, fearlessness, confidence, and spiritual awakening. Pyrite, fool’s gold, eases anxiety, frustration, and depression. Pyrite is wise man’s gold when charged with clear vision and pure intention to attract wealth, boost self-esteem, aid communications, and enhance appreciation.

My point is that the more correspondences you use while creating your talisman (always best to create your own), the more powerful the effect will be. After my fateful sun mug experience, I felt inspired by the idea of talismans and created my own little metal working shop at our country home where I could make talismans to my heart’s content. I use very specific metals, minerals, and gems to fabricate talismans on a specific day and time of day. Facing the right direction, particular incense, or the right musical vibration can greatly enhance the potency of the talisman.I made the four talismans below for myself.

talismans

As you can see, ‘Grounding’ is a bit beat up. Needless to say, I need a lot of grounding. This talisman works for me because I created it with the clear intent of becoming whole and centered. It’s mainly copper, which represents Venus and earth and is grounded in the world of practicality. Gold stimulates clear thinking, passion, intuition, and inspiration. Silver symbolizes feelings and emotion. Square shapes within circles and circles within circles give structure, discipline, and focus to inspiration, passion, and a sense of adventure.

‘Energizing’ is solid bronze and has an opal in the center. There was a huge crack throughout the entire casting. I almost didn’t use it. I decided that the crack was there as an important design element and a path from the outside of the circle to the inside of the opal. By the time I finished polishing the talisman, it felt perfect for me and my purpose.

‘Strengthening’ was created on a picture-perfect day in May (Taurus). The bull’s horns remind me to be persistent. This talisman helps me think with my head and feel with my heart. It’s also primarily bronze, which is a blending of copper, tin, zinc, and lead. From an alchemical point of view, it blends Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn in a way that balances ambition and compassion with action and provides the framework to fulfill my desires.

‘Centering’ consists of circles within circles, heart (copper) surrounded by mind (gold) and emotion (silver). Six small outer circles within two large inner circles represent masculine (gold) and feminine (silver) principles and twelve aspects of my character that I desire to balance and protect: behavior, values, thinking, feelings, will power, health, relationships, creativity, philosophy, purpose, hopes and dreams, and spirituality.

I just received a link to some very beautiful talismans that I’d like to share with you. The manufacturer talks about their properties. I think the prices are very reasonable.

In case you’re not convinced of the power of the sun, let’s take a look at how religions,    politics, governments, dictatorships, and corporations use the esoteric power of the sun to magnetize the masses to their ideologies, products, and services.

Target

Circular logos and iconic names like $tarbucks are no coincidence

Solar Symbols 2

Solar Symbols 3

Solar symbols 4

Products to Services

 

SunLeo rules the Sun, which rules the MC (Midheaven) of my astrological chart. The MC is the cusp of the tenth house, the zenith of a horoscope. The MC symbolizes a person’s career and purpose and illuminates the relationship between father and child. Wherever Leo is in your astrology chart, you need to shine like the Sun. Saturn and Pluto are planets that closely straddle my MC in the sign of Leo. Ancient astrology books define that combo as a recipe for disaster. When I was 29 and Saturn returned to its natal position by transit, my father suddenly and unexpectedly died at age 54. At the times in my life when Saturn or Pluto was transiting my natal Saturn Pluto conjunction; a devastating fire destroyed my candle factory; partners with alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions ruined our businesses; a cotton crisis wrecked my opportunity for success; and one more great opportunity was demolished by a hurricane. I felt like my career was a tragedy waiting to happen.  Any person with Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo needs to be crystal clear in their intent, disciplined, structured, focused (Saturn) and willing to let go and change (Pluto). Lead is transformed into gold when Saturn and Pluto are employed in the service of the Sun. Real alchemy is metaphysical, not physical.

mark seltman rt hand smI never foresaw any catastrophic events in my hands. Even with 20/20 hindsight, I’d never have predicted misfortune. I have an overlapping break in my fate line for this period, but that could easily have been interpreted as a transition from one career to another. Hand reading is best for identifying basic character. Astrology is useful for gaining insight into a person’s motivations, behavior patterns, habits, and timing. Tarot cards are good for getting at unconscious issues. It’s nearly impossible to be fully objective about oneself.

Everyone plans. No one can truly predict their future.

solar symbolMy intention had been to become a rich and famous designer. I was grandiose, hungry for power, and positive that I’d eventually design some product that everyone wanted or needed. I began wondering if maybe I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing.

 

 

After my light filtering window shade fiasco, I became anxious about money. I hadn’t a clue where the next influx would come from. The owner of a butcher block factory who I had designed kitchenware for recommended my design services to a friend who manufactured wooden paddle-ball paddles for a large sports design and marketing company. This guy was rudely awakened when he was told that if he didn’t lower his prices, the company he was supplying would go to Taiwan to purchase their paddles. Making someone else’s paddles was already not all that profitable, so he decided that he needed to create his own proprietary product line and retained me to come up with new design ideas. His company was morphing from being the hired help to becoming the competition. I designed a dozen or so graphic treatments which he felt were too outrageous to speculate on. He asked me several times to go back to the drawing board until he ended up with imitations of the original paddles he had been producing with minor decorative variations. Here are a couple of my efforts and the results. I made a few thousand dollars in the process.

Paddle Ball Paddles

Meanwhile, Avraham and I weren’t about to give up. We tried to “think and grow rich” several more times as our business schemes became even more grandiose.

Hopscotch“Twister” was a very popular floor game at the time. It was printed on a vinyl mat. We did our homework and found that a “Hop Scotch” mat had never been marketed, so we fabricated a prototype. Our challenge was to find a way to protect our investment. Anyone with a piece of chalk owns hop scotch. There was no way we could patent, copyright, or trademark the name. There was also no way we wouldn’t get knocked off by a large player in the game industry if we were to become successful. Then there was the potential insurance liability if anyone slipped and broke their neck or was injured in any way while using our product. We decided there were just too many obstacles to proceed. We also agreed that maybe it was time to put our product ideas on the back burner and try something new, so we stuck our restless toes in the tumultuous waters of the service industry.

“AMERICAN AUTOMOTIVE WARRANTIES CORP” was our attempt to provide new car owners with the maintenance insurance that the automotive industry had recently taken away. We courageously designed and marketed our new concept, initially sending out thousands of carefully crafted brochures to new car buyers. Unfortunately, we were way out of our league and unable to accumulate enough money in escrow to become an insurance company. We tried to find investors, but ultimately had to return the money to customers who had sent us checks.

Our next concept was a bona fide winner, although we ended up being losers. New York City was in a major financial crisis in the mid 1970’s. Avraham and I had an epiphany during one of our many brainstorming sessions. NYC was losing a fortune by not attempting to collect their out of state non-moving traffic violations. We formed NATIONAL TRAFFIC VIOLATION SYSTEMS, INC. and designed official looking stationary informing violators that they had been caught red-handed. We decided that NYC would be a perfect test market for the idea. Other large cities would follow.

It was a slippery slope because a summons is not a judgment and because no one had ever figured out how to quickly and easily trace out of state license plates to drivers. We did. We assumed that enough people would be scared or paranoid enough for us to make a respectable living. We contacted the department of motor vehicles in NYC. They nibbled on our bait by asking for more information on how to pull the idea off. We assumed we could trust them and revealed our entire plan to them. We waited patiently for several weeks for a response. The next thing we knew, we were reading in a Pittsburgh newspaper about how New York was preparing to collect fifty million dollars in non-moving out of state traffic violations.

Needless to say, we were pissed. With plenty of registered letters and correspondences with officials of New York City in hand, we planned to fight for our rights. It’s not how we had hoped to make our money, but it was better than nothing. We showed up in NYC and tried to find a law firm to represent us. Many of the largest law firms had conflicts of interest. NYC was or had been a client of theirs. They told us to let go – to give up. It would be extremely expensive and ridiculously difficult to squeeze a cent out of NYC during their financial crises. NYC was close to bankruptcy. Adding insult to injury, we ended up having to pay the NYC parking violations we’d accrued on our path to failure.

Avraham and I finally decided to throw in the towel. We’d continue to do our own things and be friends and sounding boards for each other. It’s been nearly forty years since our last attempt to do business together. We still speak frequently and still share grand ideas. I was recently walking in the woods with Avraham when he turned to me and said, “I used to dream that I’d be successful and own all sorts of stuff and I do. I’m glad I proved to myself that I could do it and am happy to report that I no longer need any of it to be happy”. I immediately challenged him to let go of it. I doubt that’s going to happen.

After Avraham and I parted ways, I went through a kind of dark period in my design thinking. Punk Rock was popular and there was a kind of fatalism in the air. I designed a collection of printed beach towels that looked like broken glass, rusty nails, hot coals, and a bunch of other stuff that no one would ever want to lie on. Here are a few.

Beach Towels

I’d been designing mugs for a large drinking mug manufacturer when I approached them with my punk-like designs below. I figured that there had to be a market for novelties of this type. They weren’t interested. Since I’d already done the design work, I thought I’d try placing my artwork on a different kind of product. I approached a novelty toilet paper manufacturer who was already printing money and faces of prominent people on toilet paper. I really thought they’d go for my idea. Instead, they told me to “take my socio-political statements elsewhere”.  I didn’t get it. Maybe I’d try t-shirt manufacturers next. I wasn’t sure what to do with my frustration.Mug and toilet paper designsThis is a self-portrait I created during this time. I call it the twelve phases of darkness.

round self portrait

Let There be Filtered Light

AvrahamI met Avraham several years before I moved to New York City. He’s a Leo. Avraham has an Intuitive hand shape with rectangular palms and short stiff fingers and thumbs. His headline and lifeline are joined at his thumb. Avraham grew up on a busy commercial street in a wealthy Jewish community. His father died when he was four. His mother was obese and in poor health. She loved Avraham, but unfortunately for him, she remarried a horrible man who became his evil stepfather. I had no idea who he was, but I used to see this creepy guy at funerals. He was a professional mourner, hired by the local funeral home to lament the dead at funerals. He was a mean spirited man and treated Avraham as an unwanted stepchild in his own home, which was a tiny shabby apartment located above a smelly local butcher shop. While other kids wore monogrammed shirts, English Leather cologne, and drove fancy cars, Avraham looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching as he climbed the dingy stairs to his impoverished depressing world.

Avraham’s short index finger and crooked pinkie and middle fingers make for an interesting tale. Despite low self-esteem and his depressing circumstances, Avraham decided at an early age that he would not be poor when he grew up. His bible became ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill. John Lennon was his favorite hero. Avraham studied diligently to become a lawyer. I’ve read many hands of lawyers with crooked pinkies. It’s very easy for them to bend the law. Avraham was as clever as the best of them, however; he chose to embrace rather than twist the law. “We’re all guilty until proven innocent”, he’d say.

Other lawyers, who didn’t know Avraham, saw him as another greedy ‘ambulance chaser’ with questionable ethics. Avraham was the first lawyer in town to post billboards at the scene of regular car accidents and to advertise on local TV. There was nothing illegal about what he did. Avraham was actually a pioneer and a very clever marketing person who put his clients’ needs and interests first. He eventually became very wealthy.  Avraham would say, “It doesn’t take too many good cases to make a decent living”.

At the time Avraham and I met, I was designing and subcontract manufacturing mushroom lamps and a variety of other plastic widgets and fighting with my business partner over his gambling addiction. Ready for change, I viewed Avraham as an opportunity for me to make a lot of money ‘the easy way’ (or so I thought).  At the time, large manufacturers of plain white roll-up vinyl window shades were competing with each other for pennies (still are). Avraham became my partner and our attorney in the window shade business.

We created the ‘stained glass window shade’ and applied for a patent on a clear vinyl roll-up shade that looked like real stained glass when daylight passed through it. We hoped to license Tiffany’s designs, but Tiffany didn’t want any part of cheapening their image with plastic. We should have known better. Instead, we retained a stained glass artisan and made exquisite prototypes of our own. When we presented them to the ultra-conservative buyers at Sears, J.C. Penney’s, Montgomery Ward, and other retail chains, they told us, “Stained glass is for churches, consumers won’t buy them”. We weren’t about to give up.

stained glass window shades

There were mainly cheap plain white vinyl shades on the market. We figured that there were more than enough ugly views from windows to make a fabulous living. Our primary challenge was to pay for expensive materials, tooling, setup charges, and minimum production runs. We traveled all over the USA, trying to license our stained glass window shade concept to the shade industry. There were seven major players at the time. We heard ‘NO’ seven times for a variety of reasons. We had gotten a fascinating education, but could no longer afford to speculate on our idea. We hadn’t sold enough shades in two years to meet our minimum financial requirements. Our patent was still good for another 15 years. Frustrated, but hopeful, we waited for a sign from the Cosmos. Our beloved Stained Glass Window Shade was on a back burner.

Avraham and I strolled in the woods, which was our office at the time. Why weren’t decorative window shades everywhere? Our pondering led us to a variety of challenges. Window shades were dirt cheap. Our concept was to increase the value of the plain white shade with fashion. We figured that producing more elegant translucent shade materials and utilizing inexpensive beautiful printing methods would appeal to consumers, buyers, and the logic of shade manufacturers. We’d say, “You get more money for fashion”. They’d reply, “You have to make a lot of shades to pay for your mistakes”.

Window Shade departments were the most mundane utilitarian department in the home furnishings industry. They were nearly as bad as trying to locate palmistry books in bookstores. If you looked for the drabbest, remotest, most inconvenient corner of the bargain basement, you’d find plain white shades in different lengths stacked in vertical bins under cutting machines. Many little plastic bags of shade hardware hung above.

Our research revealed that seven major textile mills controlled upscale department store markets for sheets, comforters, blankets, towels, table cloths, curtains, draperies, and upholstery fabrics. JP Stevens & Co was the leader of the seven. We approached them with our coordinated shade idea and licensed their most successful patterns; polka dot, gingham, calico, and denim. Seemed like a lot of money for squares, squiggles and dots, but we were now married to a powerful octopus with many very long tentacles. Our plan was to purchase short production runs of printed cotton sheeting which we’d then coat with vinyl resin and convert into window shade cloth. We’d produce them by piggy backing production runs of their most popular patterns and tacking on a few thousand yards for our product at the end of their run. We needed to sell a lot of shades to break even, but assumed that JP Stevens’ retail customers would gratefully purchase our shades.

Our next challenge was finding the best way to approach retail shade buyers. It would take some serious alchemy to transform their dowdy merchandising to chic. We begged buyers and merchandise managers for ten square feet of floor space in the drapery department with electricity to illuminate our product. We provided JP Stevens and department store buyers with pictures of coordinated shades for bed and bath product merchandising, advertising, and promotion. I designed the display fixture below. The picket fence swung open to reveal narrower width shades which were stored inside. We convinced Bloomingdale’s and Federated Department Stores to take a chance on us.

Fashion Shade Display

We prototyped Wamsutta’s Ultracale fine cotton bedding collection.

Wamsutta Ultracale Collection

We chose designs for kitchens, family rooms, and children’s rooms.

Shades for Kitchen, Family Room, and Kid's Room

We converted upholstery fabrics to window shade cloth and designed shade housings.

There are more windows than beds

We were feeling pretty good about the progress we were making, but realized that we were still at the starting line of our obstacle course. We cut the children’s patterns loose   because the royalties and minimum guarantees were ridiculously exorbitant. The shades would have cost a small fortune before they even reached the consumer. We decided that we would negotiate a better deal later. We contracted with a large shade manufacturer who was willing to produce, package, and deliver shades made from our materials for a very reasonable price. They were selling utility. We were selling fashion. We figured that they’d buy our shade business from us when we proved ourselves.

We were chomping at the bit to get started. I collected a $50,000 initial purchase order from A&S Department Stores and another $10,000 order from Bloomingdale’s. That’s when Murphy’s Law galvanized like a lightning bolt from hell. When we contacted JP Stevens to purchase yard goods, we were told that there was a cotton crisis and they didn’t have enough sheeting to supply their own needs. We suggested that they print our product on muslin, but they still had the same problem. Meanwhile, A &S was getting nervous because they realized that the shade patterns would be visible from the outside of the windows, especially at night when shades were lit from the inside. We’d anticipated that some people wouldn’t buy the shade for that reason, but didn’t consider that to be a huge problem. We had looked into laminating a translucent white vinyl film onto the back of the shade cloth. It added substantially to the price of the finished shade. It also created a possibility that the shade might curl inward instead of hanging flat in the window. Both sides must be laminated to create proper lay flat. We considered printing the patterns on vinyl shade film, but it was cost prohibitive to purchase expensive rotogravure print rollers for minimum production runs.

We contacted the department stores, explaining that we were unable to deliver their orders on time. We let each other off the hook. Meanwhile, the Burlington Domestics Bedroom Scenic Collection had become the hottest selling patterns in the market place. With a burst of inspiration I thought, ‘Why not offer consumers natural sheets with real nature scenes?’ I rendered up a batch and showed them to department store buyers.

My bedsheet designs

Closet accessoriesI also sketched some closet accessories to match and then met with the president of Burlington Industries domestics division. He told me that “they were unable to do a project of this nature at this time”. He told me that a person with my creativity should be working on “new ways for people to sleep”. That was a nice compliment, but it didn’t help me pay my rent.

 

Avraham let go of window shades to pursue more lucrative projects at that point, but not me. I was at my wit’s end when I came up with what I believe was my most brilliant window shade idea. If shade manufacturers, buyers, and consumers wanted plain white vinyl shades, I’d give them plain white vinyl shades. Elegant patterns could be illuminated when daylight passed through translucent shade materials that had been printed with an opaque white ink that matched the vinyl. I created prototypes and licensed the idea to Kenney Manufacturing Company. Dick Kenney was my favorite CEO in the shade and drapery hardware industry. It felt like a perfect match. I named my collection ‘Reflections’.

This is how the plain white shades looked when daylight passed through them.

white on white shade collection

I also created a unique collection of illuminated pattern designs which I called

New Early American Folk Art

New early american folk art

Hurricane HugoOnce again, we were all set to go when disaster struck. Hurricane Hugo hit Kenney’s shade manufacturing plant in Charleston, SC and completely destroyed it. Dick Kenney called and apologized to me while I offered him my sympathies. My most important project was once again reluctantly placed on a back burner. I was mind boggled. Every time I got close to what I wanted, it was ripped from my grasp by outside circumstances. Stay tuned for more of my physical and metaphysical misadventures.