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.

My Metaphysical Memoir 2

a bike routeI just got back from my bike ride. Bike riding is a daily ritual for me. My goal is to be at one with my bike and environment and ride as often as I can. Hot or cold, rain or shine, except for icy conditions, I traverse several fifteen mile bike routes that run in opposite directions from our country home. It takes about an hour to circle around over Vermont back country roads and forest trails. I’ve traversed nearly 4,000 miles of dirt roads on my bike over the past couple of years. Old logging roads are exhilarating when I’m in the mood for obstacles like ruts, potholes, gravel, rocks, boulders, logs, branches, sharp curves, steep hills, and muddy weather conditions. Mother Nature constantly challenges me with her ageless beauty, timeless transformation, and capricious temperament while she nourishes and encourages me to become whole, centered, and peaceful.

plastic injection molded mushroom lampAfter my candle factory fiasco, I no longer wanted to be married to manufacturing. I decided that it was better to hire someone else to manufacture products while I concentrated on designing and marketing them. I formed a fourth partnership that we dubbed ‘Universal Media’. I became the executive vice president. We subcontract manufactured injection molded plastic mushroom lamps, along with a variety of other plastic items. I no longer have a picture of our actual lamp, but it looks a lot like the one in this picture. Our best-selling lamp was created by mixing colored plastic beads together in the molding process, which resulted in an unpredictable marbleized effect. Each lamp was different and exotic in its own way. Our products were assembled and packaged in sheltered workshops.

“This is It”, I thought.  I’m helping handicapped people, giving consumers attractive and useful products, not doing the dirty work, and making a profit. It didn’t take long; however, for me to become extremely frustrated by being forced to do police work. I’d have to show up unexpectedly, roll up my sleeves, and dig my work out from the bottom of the pile. When a product is not proprietary, it’s not a priority. That was a hard pill to swallow, but as the money rolled in, my new partner’s no longer secret gambling addiction made it easier. He would effortlessly throw away five thousand dollars at the craps table in Las Vegas. Following numerous yelling matches, I walked away empty handed, but relieved.

That was the end of subcontract manufacturing for me. I decided to manufacture design only. I’d create products and completely remove myself from manufacturing problems, pollution, police work, and pathetic partners. In my quest to sell my first new product idea, I bounded from one potential client to the next, living in the cheapest fleabag hotels in the largest cities across the country. I’d wake up and look at my date book to see what city I was in and who I’d be seeing where and at what time.

old times squareAfter two years of not selling anything, with finances by the seat of my pants, I moved to New York City where I had one friend, my Dad’s sister, Aunt Lil, who expressed great consternation as I settled into a seedy fleabag hotel at 43rd St. and 8th Ave in Times Square. I ignored Lil’s disgruntled pleas and warnings, figuring it was cheap, centrally located, and within walking distance of never running out of doors to knock on. Once a week, Aunt Lil treated me to lunch including a care package of home cooked comfort food. I never told her, but often shared her nutritious meals with my homeless neighbors.  Aunt Lil was a personal secretary to one of the top VP’s at Citicorp. She volunteered dutifully to also be my humble secretary, never judging, criticizing my choices, or complaining about the work. I adored Aunt Lil and couldn’t wait to see her each week. We confided in each other and shared our deepest secrets. By day, I wore three-piece suits as I knocked on doors with my design portfolio and prototypes in hand. The rest of the time, I did piece work in local machine shops. I’d operate a drill press and do repetitive work all day long. Other times, shop owners would take on specialized projects if I agreed to fabricate them. At night, I patronized misfits in local bars in exchange for their stories and frequented the glut of porn and martial arts theaters in the hood.

Of course, Aunt Lil was right. One dark evening, I was mugged at knife-point while innocently exploring the outskirts of Times Square. I naively got backed into a dark corner of a parking lot. As my predator probed my pockets, he allowed his knife hand to drop by his side for a moment. I slammed him with all my might in the chest with my fist. He flew through the air, landing on his back. With my heart pounding like Olatungi on crack, I ran red-faced, jackrabbit style for several blocks. Suddenly, I stopped and thought, “I should have grabbed his knife and killed him”. I considered going back. That’s when I realized I had watched too many Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood movies.

I stayed in my hotel room the following night with a fifth of Jack Daniels from the liquor store. I’d never been much of a drinker, but managed to polish off the entire bottle. The next morning, I felt sicker than I could ever remember. I lay incapacitated for three days; feeling dizzy, barfing my brains out, inhaling the musty smells of poor housekeeping (a sordid stench), and hearing echoes of human pain and suffering that I had previously ignored or failed to notice.

Immediately, I engaged a roommate service. At first, my leads led to lonely gay men looking for love. I finally ended up lying about my diet and living on the upper west side as a single carnivorous man in an apartment full of lovely single vegetarian women. The experience made me crave sex and rare hamburger. After a year of too much rabbit food and not enough decadence, I moved to a large loft space in Tribecca where I set up a design and model-making studio. I shared a wall with Meryl Streep who was not an icon at the time. She was living in an adjoining loft with her sculptor boyfriend.

Cutting BoardsAfter several months, I sold my first design concept. Kitchen Art was a line of finely crafted expensive cutting boards, knife blocks, rolling pins, and other wooden-ware. I’d been designing and fabricating limited editions of expensive kitchenware for crafts fairs, galleries, and fancy retail gift stores. I’ve included several of my favorite pieces from various collections.  I envisioned each object as a symbolic charm such as a talisman or an amulet with an ability to attract and protect. My artistic creations became “lost leaders” in department stores. My cutting boards and knife blocks made their expensive staple products sell better because they were much less expensive in comparison to mine.

rolling pins

Trivets and Coasters

Commercial Cutting Boards

I believed I was on my path to fame and fortune. I worked tirelessly for about six months, producing hundreds of prototypes, which lost much of their magic in their commercial translation.

Knife Blocks

All the `at a boys’ and ‘pats on the back’ from buyers and merchandise managers fueled my optimism and idealism. Cutlery companies provided sample sets of their highest quality knives for my blocks.

Clocks

It seemed like a short jump from laminated cutting boards to designing clocks. All I needed to do was mill a space in the back large enough to accommodate a battery operated movement. I foraged into designing decorative electric clocks and novelty night lights for exclusive markets.

Electric Clocks

I was unable to market plug in products to department stores because they didn’t have UL (United Laboratories) approval, even though I’d used all UL approved parts. I needed to have my designs tested, which required many thousands of dollars of initial investment and a long waiting period.

Night Lights

I explained in an earlier entry that when I arrived in NYC, one of the first things I did with my limited resources was to consult top hand readers, astrologers, and tarot readers. I was warned that New York City was a dangerous place for me and as predicted, I was accosted several times at knife point and once at gun point over the years. I was also informed that I was a late bloomer and that I would continue to have a series of disasters and misadventures until I finally settled into my proper niche, at which time I’d become a very well-known authority on that topic.
Hermes“The lips of wisdom are closed except to the ears of understanding.” I began my life as Hermes (Peter Pan). I personified Aphrodite as an adolescent, Apollo as a young man, and Chronos in middle age. At sixty-seven, I’m a maturing Hermes (Mercury), father of modern wisdom. Every one of us embodies all archetypes in varying degrees. Although we always have a dominant archetype, secondary archetypes become temporarily dominant at different periods in our lives. An awareness of our archetypes and archetypal relationships corresponds to actual changes in our current behaviors and relationships.

 

My Sun/ Uranus conjunction in the sign of Gemini symbolizes my need to be rebellious and an inventor. I have Aries on the cusp of my astrological sixth house of work and health. Aries and Mars rule fire; a single candle or a candle factory burning down. Aries represents my passion for work and my need to pioneer. Taurus rules arts and crafts. My Moon Mars conjunction in Taurus embodies my desire for security, comfort, and prosperity. It also corresponds well with my Aries partner, Joanna, who has Venus conjunct Taurus rising. I sometimes call her ‘Rambull’.  Aries and Mars rules arguments and disagreements. I had more than my share of those with business partners. Taurus on the seventh house cusp can symbolize having partners who are stubborn obsessive-compulsive types. Having a Taurus Moon helps me stay pragmatic and calm in the face of adversity. Scorpio rising and my Saturn/Pluto conjunction in the sign of Leo on my mid-heaven presided over my many business disasters and my frequent encounters with sex and violence on the streets of New York.

My Metaphysical Memoir

mom and dad 2My last two stories introduced my mom, dad, and childhood. It’s time to examine my character. I’ll attempt to explain how I perceive and interpret my archetypal relationships with family, friends, clients, celebrities, heroes, and anti-heroes. I plan to share my insights and understanding of our symbolism as our relationships and lives unfold.

 

When I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a B.A. in Industrial Design in 1969, my parents assumed that I’d be designing for someone else. “It’s time for you to go out and find a job”, they announced. “A job? Not me. I’m going to be an inventor.”  “What will you invent?” they asked. “Ways of making a living.”  I replied. They assured me I had their mental, emotional, and spiritual support. I thanked them and immediately put on my thinking cap because my greatest challenge was not having any money.

My chronic lack of finances motivated me to ponder my dilemma on a macro and micro scale at the same time. I had become a craftsman and model maker, specializing in fabricating objects from wood, soft metals, and plastics. I would easily survive. I figured that if someone could make a fortune creating and promoting a “pet rock”, I could surely invent something that would provide me with a good income and creative freedom.

Big Mac Coaster SetThere were not many novelty coaster sets on the market at the time. I cut seven circles and a square from wood and replicated a Big Mac hamburger, staining and painting the individual pieces to simulate ingredients. They actually looked pretty appetizing. I felt confident that MacDonald’s would go for the idea. We could injection mold individual plastic pieces and imprint them. I presented the idea to product management at MacDonald’s corporate headquarters and suggested they call it a ‘Big Mac Coaster Set’. I encouraged them to market it with box tops or give it away with a certain size order. They weren’t interested. So I went directly to upstairs department stores with my hamburger coaster prototypes. Buyers liked the idea and wanted to purchase small quantities to sell, but not enough to pay for tooling and minimum production runs. My hamburger coaster idea went on a back burner. Eventually, someone else produced hamburger coasters and profited.

Candle catalog coverI launched my first real business venture with a fellow industrial design graduate and several hundred dollars. We were determined to be successful. Basic column, taper, and votive candles ‘ were staples in the marketplace at the time. We envisioned pioneering a niche for uniquely scented black light candles, ice cream candles, recycled can and bottle candles (Earth Day #1, Aries 1970), and sand-cast candles.  Combining unique methods, materials, and manufacturing processes, we produced limited editions of high quality handcrafted products at wholesale prices. For several months, we trekked a waxy trail between my partner’s living room and kitchen, ruining his stove, pots, pans, and wooden floors. Although my partner was creative and passionate, he was unreliable due to his alcohol dependency. I threatened to abandon him and his two alcoholic mutts (Michelob and Budweiser) and finally deserted them following several ugly and untimely binges. Meanwhile, we’d established a small market for our products in head shops and gift stores.

mushroom candleI promptly relocated to a three thousand square foot warehouse space with a new partner who was also an industrial designer. We borrowed a few thousand dollars each and labored like a couple of obsessive-compulsive maniacs to create equipment, set up manufacturing systems, and generate more substantial orders for candles. This time, my partner deserted me. He ran off to Brazil after his wife was violently killed in an automobile accident. We were under tremendous pressure and he couldn’t handle another drop.

Graciously, my partner apologized and donated his half of the business to me. While he became a tourism guide and fisherman, living with fresh air and water, I tried to hold on to my sanity while sweeping floors, keeping books, purchasing raw materials, and making and delivering orders that were way too large for a small crew of people working full time (let alone the two of us).

recycled can candlesCoca Cola was threatening to drive me out of business for recycling their discarded soda cans into candles. They’d rather have seen them incinerated or land filled than let me use their logo for free. I tried fighting, but quickly learned that it’s futile to fight with a god, so I reused everyone else’s cans.

 

Despite my setbacks, by the end of my first eighteen months in business, I had acquired nearly ten times the warehouse space, and was buying wax by the barge load, essential oils by the barrel, and artificial dyes by the drum. It was a lot of hard and dirty work, but I figured that eventually I’d be able to pay other people to do the dirty work for me.

candle factory fireOne morning I awoke to find that an electric immersible heater malfunction had transformed my factory into the largest candle in Pittsburgh’s history. Smokeless flames over one hundred feet tall had leapt passionately into the night sky. Seventeen fire engines and many firemen worked all night, but were unable to rescue it. While sorting through the rubble, I imagined Hiroshima. Large steel beams had sagged and aluminum molds had melted like ice into puddles. Everything else was charred to a crisp. That was my first really intense experience with pollution. Not just environmental pollution, but a psychic pollution that occurs when you owe a lot of money and have none.  After a year of legal battles, as I frantically scrounged to support a life style that I could no longer afford, a jury awarded me a financial settlement in an insurance lawsuit over my landlord’s (third partner’s) faulty sprinkler system. Bill collectors, like unrequited stalkers, finally let go when I settled with my creditors and investors for ten cents on the dollar. I got nothing.

mark seltman astrological chart

I hadn’t a clue about my symbolism at the time all this chaos was happening. In hindsight, I realized that I was destined to be an inventor, a rebel, a pioneer, a communicator, and failed businessman. I was forced by circumstance to understand what I value, how I think, what I feel, and believe. My candle factory fire and many other disasters and catastrophes that were to follow in my future were also meant to be so that I could become who I was meant to be. I’ll explain as my story unfolds.

Dad and Metaphysics

Dad with his kidsMy father was a Pisces, born 2/22/22. His astrological Sun, Venus, and Uranus are conjunct his ascendant in the sign of Pisces. Dad was a super Pisces. He was also a super father. My brother, Gary (Pisces), sister, Jennifer (Taurus), and I (Gemini) were extremely blessed and we knew it.

 

I didn’t begin reading hands until after dad passed away, so I never analyzed dad’s hands from a symbolic perspective. I haven’t found good pictures of his hands, either. I remember dad’s hands being warm, strong, and capable. He had a grip of steel and a very firm hand shake, but his energetic touch was always gentle and loving.

If the definition of a genius is an average kid with a Jewish mother, ours was father. When I was seven years old, I played a Chopin Prelude on the radio. Dad distributed radios to every class in my grade school. He made sure that everyone who we knew listened. Despite my mortification when I found out, I became an overnight celebrity and ‘child prodigy’ in my grade school and little community. In hindsight, it was great fun.

Dad was an incredible storyteller. Hardly a night went by in early childhood when my brother, sister, and I didn’t go on an exciting far off imaginary adventure at bedtime. “BoBo” the gorilla and “Squeaky” the mouse were friends and two of dad’s magical characters that are still part of us. We draw strength and humor from having known them. I told those stories to my daughter many times in her early childhood. I can imagine her children telling those stories to their children one day.

Pride and JoyI know, it’s a corny salesman’s tool, but dad would ask people if they’d like to see his ‘Pride and Joy’. Dad was a super salesman who always worked for a fixed salary. That never made sense to me. Why would he work for someone else when he could sell nearly anything? Ironically, dad never found anything to sell that truly turned him on. Dad wholesaled products like crystal, candles, pens, and furniture. He also sold products like insurance and real estate.

 

Dad's commercialsThe reason Dad was such a great salesman was his desire and ability to care about people. Everybody looked forward to seeing him and he was as happy as a puppy to see them. Dad remembered everyone’s important personal stuff and made them feel glad to be themselves when he was around. His heartwarming smile and Mom's exercise ball videocomical humor was contagious. Click here to watch dad in action. Although the quality isn’t great because this was converted from old 8mm film, I guarantee you’ll laugh at the content. In case you haven’t seen mom’s famous ‘exercise ball’ video, click here.

Dad at 2Dad carried this embarrassing picture in his wallet. When there was any conversation about testosterone or being well endowed, he’d ask, “Would you like to see a picture of me when I was 2 years old?” At his funeral, dozens of people we never met or knew existed showed up to let us know how valuable and important dad had been to them in their lives.

 

Dad dreamed of becoming a doctor. When WWII came, he lied about his age (17) and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He became a staff sergeant. His next quest was as a tail gunner on a B-24 bomber in the air force. I can’t imagine a scarier job. Dad was the only member of his crew to survive the bloody massacre as their plane was shot down over Italy on their 49th (next to last) mission. Dad bailed out, waiting until the last second to open his parachute because the sky was full of flak. He ended up several hundred miles behind enemy lines with a badly broken leg. He ate from garbage cans at night as he dragged himself to freedom. At daybreak, dad hid under people’s porches or in their basements. When he finally reached the allied forces his leg had become totally black.  Army surgeons wanted to cut it off, but Dad told them that they had better cut his head off while they’re at it. He had been an athlete and great sprinter. Dad once told me that he came close to breaking Jesse Owens world record for the one hundred meter dash while in the marines. Dad’s leg healed with surgery and therapy. It never bothered him.

Dad never ever spoke of his war experiences. When he passed, we went through his personal effects and found photos of him with his air force buddies, press clippings about their tragedy, and a stack of medals. That experience was the turning point in Dad’s life. His intent and priorities became crystal clear after that. Dad was a war hero, but when I was called for my army physical for the Vietnam War, he insisted that I was not to participate in a meaningless and senseless conflict. If it were Hitler’s Germany, dad would have wished me luck and hugged me goodbye. Instead, he wanted to send me to Canada. I applied to all the branches of the armed services as a designer; however, those jobs are reserved for rich people’s kids. Fortunately, I convinced an army psychiatrist that although I was willing to serve, I wouldn’t make a good soldier.

mom and dadDad was highly romantic, old fashioned, and sentimental. Shortly after the war, he spotted my mom at a bus stop. It was love at first sight. Dad swept mom off her feet. They were married three weeks later. I was conceived on their wedding night and born nine months and one day later. I became a huge responsibility in progress. Both mom and dad had to grow up quickly, accept that responsibility, and become very practical. That’s the main reason dad became a salesman instead of a doctor.

Dad and mom danced around the house like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, doing the cha cha, mambo, polka, and tango, and loving it. We kids thought they were ridiculous. Dad treated mom like a goddess and frequently brought her fresh flowers. He made sure to tell us “I love you” a lot. When mom died, we found albums full of hand written romantic anniversary cards that dad had mailed to her every single month for nearly 30 years.

As a family, we watched ‘Leave it To Beaver’, ‘Father Knows Best’, Ozzie and Harriet’, ‘My Three Sons’, and all those other ‘wholesome’ 50”s television shows. TV characters were role models for us. They reinforced our family values. It boggled my young mind to realize that most of the world didn’t actually seem to share those values.

mom and dad's headstoneOn the day Dad died of a sudden massive heart attack, he left a one line love note for mom. She laminated it in plastic and cherished it until she died. After thirty years, we dug dad up and buried him and mom together. I designed a headstone in mom’s favorite red marble.

 

I loved Dad’s visions, inventions, and get rich quick schemes, though none ever materialized. There were super-duper pooper-scoopers, bed wetting prevention devices, unique foods, and numerous gadgets. One of dad’s friends created an “Ant Farm”. Dad tried to raise a relatively small amount of money in order to become a partner. We all thought it was a lunatic idea. Why would anyone want ants in their home?  Next would be the poison ivy terrarium. We may have undermined Dad’s confidence. He never got it together, while his friend became an overnight multi-millionaire. Dad never complained, but there was rarely extra money around.

I remember how Mom and Dad would compose music and write lyrics together. She’d play piano. He’d sing (Piscesrules music). She played Eurydice to his Orpheus. They knocked on doors up and down Tin Pan Alley in New York, trying to peddle their creations. Dad loved Johnny Cash (Pisces). He felt Johnny was the perfect performer for their favorite creation, “The Crack of the Carbine”, a tragic ballad about a hunter and his whitetail prey. We all thought Dad was a better choice than Johnny, but Dad was determined to have Johnny sing it. The story goes that Dad stalked Johnny Cash. One day, he cut Johnny off in a parking lot with his car. Johnny had to agree to hear Dad’s song before Dad let him go. Johnny wasn’t interested, but it did make a good “Big Fish” story to add to Dad’s burgeoning repertoire. Mom and dad ultimately found a relatively unknown group ‘The Limelighters’ to sing their song. They published a 45 rpm record.

There was a dark side to Dad’s Character. His shadowy side revealed itself when the kids flew the coop. Life’s meaning and purpose became abstract and elusive for him. Mom used to tell us that dad would bring little kids he met in the supermarket home. Their parents would lend them to him for the afternoon.

Pisces rules smoke and drugs. Dad compulsively smoked cigarettes. He never coughed or wheezed or we’d have had something to get on his case about. We kids complained that we didn’t want to be passive smokers, so he stopped smoking in our presence. Over the years, Dad became a chain-smoking cigar addict, inhaling his beloved cigars. He finally clogged up. Mom said he was also drinking too much alcohol. He tried to hide his deepening depression, but he’d get too happy and that worried her. I realized how co-dependent we were with dad when we had to do everything for ourselves. Dad would have chewed our food for us if he thought it would help. I believe one of the reasons Dad died so young was so that all of us including mom could grow up.

Two months before Dad died, we had a family reunion. Dad and I hiked into the forest. It felt reminiscent of our magical hikes in early childhood. I grew up believing that elves, fairies, and gnomes skillfully hid under rocks and in trees. They only came out when there were no people around. Dad and I tread lightly like ‘Native Americans’ as we scanned for creatures, plants, rock formations, trees, and bubbling brooks. I spent endless hours with him as a child, turning over rocks in streams; looking for crayfish, lizards, and salamanders. I’m the only person I know who adores the smell of skunk (Cassie may). When dad and I traveled alone in the car, he used to pull over next to a skunk road kill, flap the car door and inhale as deeply as possible. We were sorry for the skunk, but would heartily laugh ourselves to tears at the uniquely pungent experience.

Dad and I stood silently, deep in the forest on that day. A gentle autumn wind rustled the leaves in the trees. We turned and our eyes met. “I love you, Mark” he told me. “I love you, Dad”, I replied. We embraced each other with our hearts pressed together, both of us holding back tears of joy and sadness. It was hard sharing the painful parts. Dad had lost his best friend, Bernie, (sudden massive heart attack) two weeks earlier. Mom said dad was “deeply depressed”. He searched for solace, only to find more sadness. I felt sorry for him. I too, was melancholy because I had recently realized that I had made some bad choices in my life. I didn’t know how to share them with him.

If we had more time together, we would have talked about those things. As we crept stealthily and peacefully through the forest, dad stopped suddenly and put his finger over his mouth, which meant ‘be quiet’. Had he heard a deer, a bear, or a fox? I waited patiently for a moment or two and then said “What?!!”  Dad cut a thunderous fart. We laughed like adolescent schoolboys. That was my next to last memory. My last memory of dad was with thumbs up waving to each other from our cars as we drove in separate directions. Two months later Dad was suddenly and unexpectedly dead at age 54.

“Never say never.” Dad would say. Boy was he right. I swore I’d never be like him in certain ways; however, I turned out a lot like him in ways that matter most. My father’s influence was powerful.  When Cassie was a baby, there was nothing I enjoyed more than being a good old-fashioned homemaker. Joanna told me that other mothers in the park hated me. I used to tell them that Cassie’s shit smelled good (it consisted of her mother’s milk for the first six months). I’d say to Joanna “they’re jealous because they don’t have husbands like me”. I was obliviously proud to be Joanna’s husband and Cassie’s dad. We argued about which of us was luckiest. We all were and still are.

Mom and Metaphysics

On my mother’s birthday, June 20, it feels appropriate to write this blog entry about her.  It’s the last day of Gemini and the summer solstice arrives tomorrow.

“Eighty years of age does not seem old to me. Old is when one is again dependent as we were in infancy – needing help as a constant to feed and care for oneself. Who knows, I may die from an illness before I ever get old, then on to the next adventure.”

mom with hands upI spoke earlier about how my Dad unexpectedly died when I was twenty-nine. He was fifty-four. Losing Dad compelled me to get to know myself in new ways.  Mom was eighty-three when she passed away. She continued to ponder the meaning of her life until her last breath, while battling metastasized breast cancer and a grapefruit sized mass of malignant tumors in her liver. Mom’s eternal optimism and loving encouragement compelled me to be true to myself.

Bobi and ZadiMom considered herself to be very lucky, having led a worthwhile and productive life. Despite her obstacles and challenges, her life was filled with joy. Mom was a super Gemini. She had square palms and widely spread long fingers. She was the youngest of hard working Russian Jewish immigrants who loved and adored each other and their five children. Mom’s two oldest sisters died when they were very young. Mom’s long strong index fingers symbolize her ambition to achieve. She was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Though her family struggled financially at first, they never felt poor. Mom’s father (my Zadi) was the most generous man I’ve ever known. He always had loose change and an abundance of warmth and good spirits for everyone. I remember in my early childhood, Zadi showing up with a diversity of people off the street at meal times. I cherish the special memories of time spent with my Bobi and Zadi.

Geminis can be wonderful friends. Mom felt blessed in this arena. She attributed her friend making ability to moving frequently in childhood. With so many changes involving multiple schools, mom learned to adapt and develop social skills in order to make new friends. As you examine the balls of her thumbs, you can see many long lines parallel to her lifeline. Mom maintained intimate friendships from early childhood. They continued to love each other through heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other diseases of old age.

mom and dad honeymoonThe luckiest thing mom ever did was to hook up with my dad. They met at a bus stop. It was love at first sight. She was a twenty-one year old virgin princess. He was a twenty-five year old former bad boy in the process of turning good. She played Eurydice to his Orpheus and Persephone to his Pluto. I was conceived on their wedding night and born nine months to the day later. Mom wanted to have a natural childbirth, however after thirty-six hours in labor, I was cut out. She came within inches of dying and spent weeks convalescing. When I first discovered Astrology, I sought an eminent astrologer for my first reading. “This is a death chart” she told me. A person’s horoscope is also their mother’s transits at birth.

When I was forty, I hired Laurie Nadel, a psychologist to regress me to a past life. She had written a book called the ‘Sixth Sense’ on past life regression and was well known for her work in that field. As she gently talked me into a state of deep relaxation, she encouraged me to visualize my life as a tunnel with a series of lights going back through time. As we regressed through this life, my job was to turn on the lights wherever they were out. I had to jog my subconscious memory in order to do that. When I arrived back at age three the tunnel was black. As I turned those lights on, I found myself sitting on the potty, not needing to have a bowel movement, but still making grunting noises while my mom was concurrently teaching me to read. No one could ever accuse mom of being unambitious or inefficient. I guarantee I was the first boy on the block to be out of diapers and reading at the same time. I also remembered mom setting the timer on a variety of occasions (with the threat of punishment) to help me achieve tasks that needed to be completed in a timely fashion. In her defense, considering my highly flexible thumbs at that time, I must have also been the most unstructured, undisciplined, and unfocused kid on the block. Peter Pan doesn’t like restrictions. I never did get to any past lives in that session.

My brother, Gary, was born when I was four. At seven my sister Jennifer arrived. Mom used to say, “Most parents make most of their mistakes on their first kid” (which was true in my case). She considered raising her children the greatest accomplishment in life. As I began my early twenties, I confronted mom to tell her that I wasn’t perfect and that she had made plenty of mistakes. She replied, “Well son, I’m sorry for anything I did which caused you any harm. My mistakes were not intentional. I tried my best to be a good parent. You’ll understand when you’re a parent. You’re an adult now. You must grow up and get past whatever holds you back. You need to be as healthy as you can be.” She was right. What could I say? My brother and sister were spared most of my hard lessons. We did turn out OK in ways that matter most.

Mom was a cultivated Gemini. She was one of the most well-read people I ever knew.   When I was about ten years old, mom read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.       It reinforced what she already knew and confirmed her most significant value in her life, which was the knowledge and understanding that while you can’t always control what happens to you, you have the power to choose what you think, feel, and do about what happens to you. Whether you’re going out in the rain with or without an umbrella or going to the electric chair screaming or with dignity, you still have the ability to choose your behavior.

Mom as poster child at 77Even in the direst of circumstances, mom had a sense of humor. She was lying in her hospital bed with tubes going in and out of her and she said to me, “What worries me most is how nice everyone is to me. Do they know something I don’t?”  My sister warned her “You’re not allowed to die until you finish raising my (teenage) kids”. She joked about buying mom’s casket at Costco and mom loved the idea. My brother said to mom, “I’ll start worrying when you stop putting on your makeup”. He threatened to taxidermy her and stick her in a corner in his living room. Mom’s intensive care doctor told us that in all his years, he never had a patient who was so sick and so determined not to look like it. While wheeling mom around the hospital, people thought I was her husband. I’d say “Thanks for the compliment, but I’m her father”. “Pleased to meet you”, they’d say. The joke was on me. At sixty, I was still a potential embarrassment to my mom. Some things never change. Mom was a poster child for the geriatric crowd at seventy-seven. If you want to get a real taste for mom, you’ve got to check out this exercise ball video that mom made as a response to my sister sending her the ball. Though the quality isn’t great, I guarantee you’ll love the content!

Gemini

`Gemini image

 GEMINI   MAY 23 – JUNE 21

 “The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding.” Hermes

HermesThe greatest Communicator of all time was Hermes Trismegistus, founder of Astrology and Occult Wisdom and discoverer of Alchemy. Hermes was a real person who lived in ancient Egypt. He was reputedly the mystic teacher of Abraham. The Egyptians deified Hermes as Thoth, Scribe of the Gods. Thoth became the Greek archetype, Hermes, god of Wisdom. The Roman version is Mercury, messenger of the Gods. In Tarot, Hermes is the Magician at a crossroads with all of the resources and tools he needs to go anywhere and do anything at any time. In Astrology, Gemini (social) and Virgo (technical) are the residences of Hermes. Tradition recorded that Hermes refused to grow old and lived gracefully for nearly three hundred years in the flesh. Peter Pan, who can fly and never grow old, is a twentieth century adaptation of Hermes’ adolescence. I’ll be sixty-seven in a few days. I still feel like a teenager on the inside!

Hermes was the real father of wireless communication. He taught his disciples that our brains are the cell communication hardware while our minds transmit and receive messages. Long before Moses, while other Alchemists were still trying to turn lead into GoldHermes realized that the real world consisted of relationships between cells made up of energy and matter vibrating on different planes. These ever blending planes are labeled Physical, Mental, and Spiritual in Hermetic philosophy. We are individuals made up of individual cells; physically, mentally, and spiritually connected with all other cells on all other planes at the same time. We can connect with anyone and anything once we learn to establish and tune our links.

Hermetic alchemy deals in the mastery of mental forces, transmuting one kind of mental vibration into another instead of material elements. Hermes calls the unknowable and indefinable spirit “The ALL”. Hermes explained that “While ALL is in The ALL, it is equally true that The ALL is in ALL. To him who truly understands this truth hath come great knowledge”. The inner nature of The ALL is unknowable. That’s why we have anthropomorphic Gods and institutionalized religion. Hermes describes spirit as the essence which permeates and the glue which connects everything. Spirit gives form. Our spiritual development is dependent on the recognition, realization, and manifestation of the spirit within us.

Hermes recognized and established seven basic metaphysical and philosophical principles: Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect, and Gender. Applying these principles enabled Hermes to explore, examine, and explain everything.

ying yangHermes described opposites as two extremes of the same thing with many varying degrees between them. Where does heat end and cold begin? Where does darkness leave off and light begin?  What about hard and soft, sharp and dull, noisy and quiet, high and low, positive and negative? The same principle operates on the mental plane. Love and hate are simply degrees of the same thing. Somewhere in the middle are shades of like and dislike. The vibrations of hate can be changed to the vibrations of love through the art of polarization, a phase of mental alchemy known and practiced by ancient and modern Hermetic masters. “The Secret” is the “Law of Polarity’s” latest PR crusade.

The Kybalion states: Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair           of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature but different     in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

Hermeticists were the original astrologers, alchemists, and psychologists. The ancients possessed knowledge of transcendental astronomy called astrology; of transcendental chemistry called alchemy; and of transcendental psychology called mystic psychology.       They cultivated inner as well as outer knowledge.

Evolved philosophers and thinkers throughout history have unlocked the mysteries of nature using symbolism. What do the following historical figures all have in common?  Galileo the Astronomer; Pythagoras the Mathematician; Confucius the Philosopher; Plato the Thinker; Aristotle the Scientist; Nostradamus the Astrologer; Leonardo Da Vinci the Artist; George Washington the President; Carl Jung the Psychologist; and Joseph Campbell the Mythologist. They were all Grand Masters of Symbolic thought.

Anyone can learn alchemy. Real alchemy has not much to do with turning lead (Saturn) into gold (Sun). Real alchemy is a set of magical formulas, tools, and esoteric instruction for becoming healthy, happy, and fulfilled in life. Alchemy is about cultivating vision, nurturing relationships, making healthy decisions, embracing right choices, having faith and healthy attitudes that build sound structures on good foundations, and facing challenges with strength, courage, and wisdom. Accomplished alchemists are disciplined, focused, mentally and emotionally balanced, and spiritually connected. Alchemy is like spiritual magnetism. The law of attraction works best when you know what you desire and your intent is clear. It’s possible to transform negative circumstances and challenges into positive results. Taking a leap of faith and letting go of fear is vital.

Hermes asks us to know ourselves and to allow our minds and willpower to embrace the positive aspects of who we are. We can choose to embrace the healthy side of our character. We can attract nourishing relationships and roles for ourselves. We can shine our most noble and beautiful qualities brightly on the most beneficial and constructive aspects of our character. We can turn lead into gold.

Astrology is one of the languages which Hermes used to unlock the ancient mysteries. Astrology is a symbolic system that compares and contrasts the heavens with the affairs of mankind on earth. Astrologers espouse Hermes second principle of correspondence “As above, so below – as below, so above”. Our diversity of astrological symbols and their relationships reflect one big, but not necessarily happy family and world. Each and every relationship changes each and every other relationship on a cellular level by raising or diminishing its vibration, polarity, and rhythm.

Hermes types are free thinkers. She has a quick mind and is adaptable like a chameleon. He has no problem seeing your point of view, even when he doesn’t agree with you. She seems to be able to converse about absolutely anything with anyone. He’s versatile, curious, logical, spontaneous, and witty. She’s one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. He can handle plenty of analysis, detail, and information, but would rather be free of mundane responsibilities. She’s too clever for her own good sometimes. He’s not beyond bending the truth to suit his needs. On her dark side, she can be a con artist, thief, or pickpocket. He can be nervous, superficial, unreliable, and restless. She’s notorious for being ambiguous and ambivalent. Sometimes he’s accused of being schizophrenic. Maintaining long term relationships that aren’t true friendships doesn’t really work for her. His success comes from learning to stay structured, disciplined, and focused.

Hermes was the shortest of the gods. The pinkie finger is normally the shortest finger. When the tip is longer than the crease between the first and second phalange of the ring finger, it’s considered long. When shorter, it’s considered short. A dominant pinkie fingered person is often short in stature (Ed Harris). His or her body and face are slender. He has expressive hands, dark hair, and penetrating eyes with crow’s feet in the corners. He’s youthful looking.  Men frequently have thin beards (Johnny Depp).  Hermes types tend to be childlike. Michael Jackson actually lived in Neverland. They love children and often marry someone like their mother or father. Most Hermes types are androgynous. Many (although they may not know or admit it) are bi-sexual. Hermes had an affair with Aphrodite in mythology. The result was Hermaphrodite. David Bowie is a Capricorn with a very strong Hermes. Hermes dominant physical sense is hearing. A dominant pinky fingered person prefers small musical instruments that require a lot of dexterity. Health issues center around the nervous and bronchial systems. Hermes types may also have problems with headaches, thyroid glands, memory loss, and speech impediments. Dominant Hermes types make great lawyers, politicians, doctors, orators, writers, engineers, teachers, accountants, bankers, and shopkeepers.

Our pinkie finger shows our ability to communicate. It also indicates truthfulness. Our early family dynamic may be observed in the way the pinkie is set on the hands. If it is very short or low set, trust is a major issue. Some women who have very low set pinkies have told me that they have trouble having orgasms. Their real challenge is in trusting someone enough to have real intimacy. The length and proportions of our pinkie finger symbolizes technical language, family, and sexual potentials.

Pinky ringGold and diamond rings are often found on the pinkie finger of acquisitive people. Pinkie rings can symbolize the sublimation of sexual energies in order to accomplish something requiring a lot of libido. I recently examined a group of fifty young men and women who were all born into wealthy families in the 80′s. Considering the prosperity of the period, it seemed a paradox to me that every single individual had an obviously short phalange on the bottom segment of the little finger of his or her dominant hand.  Money will never be the governing motivation for their career choices. Family and personal values will drive these individuals.

Healthy Hermes types can be social and intuitive geniuses. They’re great judges of character. Their liabilities are trickiness, fickleness, nervousness, restlessness, and superficiality. People preaching on soapboxes, most pickpockets, and a majority of con artists have dominant pinkies (most inwardly curving). I work at special events with great magicians. These amazing tricksters are Mercurial with dominant pinkie fingers. They surprise and astound by deceiving the eye and mind of the beholder.

Stay tuned for the first installment of my metaphysical memoir. Since my mother was a Gemini and I’m a Gemini, I’m starting there.

Seven Lessons I’ve learned on my Path to Framing my New Plan for Palmistry

old storefront from Randolyn

Making palmistry real and personal for the masses has been like prying a glimmer of light from a 5,500 year old rusty dungeon door with only a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers. I hope that glimmer will illuminate and transform the paradigm of palmistry as a scam into the acceptance and support of the science and art of reading hands.

It boggles my mind to realize that a gazillion authors are publishing what they hope to be the next bestseller since the Bible. A gargantuan glut of writers is cranking out writing platforms and promoting themselves. I’m one of them. Unfortunately, readers, listeners, and viewers everywhere are developing blindness, deafness, and numbness to the relentless and ruthless bombardment of their physical senses and psyches.

Content may still be king, but consider this paradox. The internet (E-ether) is an opportunity to create value out of thin air. E-communication creates E-clutter, which ultimately becomes E-contamination. We collect and cultivate, but don’t properly dispose of E-garbage. We can close overflowing landfills, but how do secure cyber-fills and clean up toxic digital spills. How can we recycle our hazardous dot-coms?

Here are seven lessons I’ve learned on my path to framing my new plan for palmistry.

  1. Advertising is only a hook. It’s a waste of time and $ without an expert fisherman.
  2. Publicity is better than advertising. A lot of it is required to make a difference.
  3. Social networking requires endless time, persistence, and a lot of discipline.
  4. Getting reviews and endorsements is much more challenging than I anticipated.        I purchased hundreds of books on demand which I mailed to family, friends, colleagues, and book reviewers. I’ve heard “Bravo”, “I love it!”, and “at a boy”,     many times, but I’ve received only a handful of reviews and endorsements.
  5. I expected to find solidarity and support in the palmistry community, but instead have found an almost deafening silence accompanied by pettiness, jealousy, and competitiveness. You’d think other palmists would be happy that someone was finally endeavoring to personalize and popularize palmistry after 5,500 years of obscurity. I would. Fortunately, I have support from the astrological community.
  6. People call me a great palmist. I’m actually a great counselor. Palmistry is my favorite tool for recognizing and understanding character. I also use astrology, numerology, tarot, and archetypal psychology to delve into a client’s issues.
  7. It’s easier to buy than sell. I always accomplish the most on my dime.

My previous plan for palmistry had been to continue to write my blog ‘Real Palmistry Stories’ and prepare for my next book. I still plan to do that, but instead of randomly writing compelling hand reading stories, I intend to include all of my metaphysical knowledge and tools in my bag of tricks. I’ve recognized that my life has been one big symbolic story. I want to share that story as seen through the lenses of metaphysical cosmology and archetypal psychology.  My heroes will be my family, friends, clients, and celebrities who I admire. My anti-heroes are people who flaunt ego and greed. I believe if anyone has much more than they need, they also have a spiritual responsibility to give as much as possible back to humanity.

I’ll tie the symbolism of the time of year into my musings. This is the month of Gemini. Since I’m a Gemini, I plan to begin writing my memoir this month. I’ll share how my symbolism works in my life and in the collective. Since it’s my dime, I plan to break plenty of rules on my way, including laws of syntax, grammar, and punctuation. I may parody, rhyme, and rant. I might even awfully alliterate. Take what works and leave what doesn’t.

I still have fifty review copies of my Hand Book left. I’m going to give them away on a first come, first serve basis. If you’d like to receive one, click on my contact info and leave your name and mailing address.  I’ll get one out to you.

Thanks for your interest and support.

Palmistry – Fact vs Fiction

extended family photo

Fact:  Everyone has hands.  Hands contain valuable information about a person’s character, relationships, purpose, and health.

Fiction: Palmistry is a fortune telling scam.

It was never my intention to become the face of palmistry, however, since I’m nearly 67 and no one else is doing it, I’m assuming the responsibility. I’d like to share with you six lessons that I’ve learned while attempting to become a spokesperson for palmistry.

  1. Most people are resistant to change.  It’s amazing how many strangers over the years have asked me if I “really believe this stuff”, or they deny palmistry, saying it’s bunk, even though they’ve never bothered to study or research a drop of it.
  2. It’s hard work shedding light in the dark. Much of my work is mundane. I spend many hours each day social networking and corresponding via snail mail. I often spend an hour or more a day just addressing envelopes by hand.
  3. It’s a lonely journey and not much fun. I crave solidarity, but mostly get solitude, “at a boys” and pats on the back for my efforts. Fortunately, I have a few educated peers to bounce ideas off of, but generally, I experience a lot of apathy from most people.    I wish I had access to a think tank or mastermind group.
  4. It’s very expensive to finance my efforts. Just printing a few hundred books and sending them out can cost a couple of thousand dollars. I’ve signed up for a variety of expensive monthly internet services. I’ve also paid for advertising on Facebook and other social networks. I spend a huge amount of time writing articles for free in exchange for publicity. Life in general has become very costly.
  5. People call me a great palmist, but I’m actually a great counselor. By combining my knowledge of palmistry with my understanding of astrology, numerology, tarot, mythology, and psychology, I’m able to deeply understand people’s needs.
  6. Publicity is the best form of promotion.

I’ve been laboring over a press release for the past couple of weeks that I intend to send out to the mass media. I’m attempting to capture the essence of modern palmistry and to compel the mass media to embrace the idea of accepting palmistry as a valuable form of self-help. I’ve asked all of my friends, fans, and followers for feedback and advice and have received many interesting comments on my most recent blog post. The consensus is that less is more and I need to condense my proposal.

I tend to recoil at suggestions that I reduce my pitch to superficial sound bites such as predicting ‘love’, ‘money’, or ‘the future’ from hands. I know that it’s what a lot of people want to hear, but that’s a myth. A literary agent once approached me to write an article for Cosmo magazine, “How to increase your bust size through palmistry”. She thought I was crazy when I refused to participate, because the money was substantial. People are hooked on quick fixes. I refuse to become a snake oil salesman or dispense miracle pills for eternal happiness and enlightenment.

The most popular palmistry book (and my least favorite) is called “Palmistry, From Apprentice to Pro in 24 Hours”. You truly can’t judge a book from its cover. If claims like this one were true, there would certainly be a lot of people in the world enthusiastically reading hands and learning all kinds of valuable stuff about themselves and each other.

Here is my most recent version of my press release. Any comments, thoughts, ideas, advice, opinions, and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Hand Book

New perspectives in palmistry are featured in this freshly published ‘Hand Book’           that revolutionizes how people see their hands.

In the 20th Century we asked “What’s your sun sign?”

In the 21st Century we’ll soon ask, “May I see your hands?”

Real Palmistry

Mark Seltman, author of ‘Real Palmistry’ (e-book), shifts the paradigm of palmistry as a fortune-telling scam to seeing hands as a valuable tool to knowing oneself and others. “Priceless insight is waiting to be discovered at the ends of our arms” says Mark, who has been featured in the New York Times, The View, CBS Evening News, New York Magazine, Family Circle, and recently has been named one of The 100 Top Psychics and Astrologers in America 2014.

In our complicated world, the value of reading hands is in being able to readily and easily identify basic character and motivation. Hands change as a person’s thinking and circumstances change. A tiny change in the direction or quality of a line can symbolize a huge change in a life.  It’s time for the ancient science and art of palmistry to be reborn; initiating compelling new opportunities for people to interact and get to know themselves and others better.

Palmistry is simple and fun. You don’t have to be an expert palmist to see relationship, career, and health potentials in your hands. Self-knowledge and understanding is easily acquired through a visual and tactile examination of hands. ‘Hand Book’ will motivate readers to look at their hands and teach them to see their character in action.

Mark explains how the size, shape, and proportions of hands reveal four basic archetypes: Intuitive, PracticalThinking, and Feeling. The texture, color, elasticity and consistency of skin explain how we initiate, maintain, and adapt to new ideas and circumstances. The attributes of individual fingers, shapes of fingertips, and qualities of nails reflect our relationships with others. Lines in the hands and gestures reveal detailed information about our life choices and circumstances.

You can ask your hands:

Like a Myers Briggs personality test incarnate, our hands are topographical maps of our character. As we study them to identify our strengths and weaknesses, we can alter our thinking, exercise our free will, and transform our negative thought patterns into positive behavioral patterns. As we make decisions and take action, we can see our successes and failures reflected in the mirrors of our hands over time.

‘Real Palmistry’ is a must read for anyone who’s curious about what their hands reveal about who they really are.

Mark Seltman has read many thousands of sets of hands. He’s been featured on Martha Stewart LivingQueens, FOX Good Day NY, WNYC Radio, NY Newsday, Where NY, the Daily News, Village Voice, Time Out New York, Modern BrideINSTYLE, Refinery 29, and many other publications.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent Real Palmistry e-book review on Amazon.com.

I’ve read more than a few palmistry books and this is something else. It does teach palm reading, but differently from any other book I’ve read. This book is about concepts like will power, creativity, health and perception. Sure he talks about the mounts and lines and fingers, but he presents it in an interesting and unique way. Mark tells stories and anecdotes about his life as a palm reader (and his life) and dispenses his philosophy. There are many pictures that illustrate his points and he includes web links as further reference. There is much to be learned in this unique book and I think the format will help the reader learn and understand it faster and longer.

Reviews drive search engines. I have extra copies of Hand Book. If anyone would like to receive a free copy, leave your mailing address in the comments section of this blog         (I won’t publish it). I’ll send you a copy. If you like it, please review Real Palmistry (e-book) on Amazon.com. It’s basically the same book as Hand Book and is a better value for the $.

My Pitch for Palmistry for All

Hand Book

Hand Book’ (paperback) revolutionizes how people see their hands.  Mark Seltman, master palmist, and author of ‘Real Palmistry’ (e-book), shifts the archaic paradigm of palmistry as a gypsy fortune-telling scam to seeing hands as a valuable way to knowing self and other. Priceless treasure is waiting to be discovered at the ends of our arms.

Mark logically explains how hands are topographical maps of our character and clearly illustrates how our past, present, and future are embodied in our hands. Like a Myers Briggs personality test incarnate, the size, shape, and proportions of hands reveal a combination of four basic archetypes: Intuitive, PracticalThinking, and Feeling. The texture, color, elasticity and consistency of skin and flexibility of joints explain how we initiate, maintain, and adapt to new ideas and circumstances. The proportions and lengths of individual fingers, phalanges, shapes of fingertips, and qualities of nails represent our relationships with others and how we are fulfilling our potentials in our world around us. Lines in the hands, dermatoglyphics (fixed skin ridge patterns), and gestures reveal more detailed information about our life choices and circumstances.

The arts and crafts of interpretation and counseling require study and practice.

Palmistry is simple and fun. You don’t have to be an expert palmist to see relationship, career, and health potentials in your hands. Self-knowledge and understanding will be acquired through a visual and tactile examination of hands. You must know what to look for and learn how to see it. ‘Hand Book’ will motivate you to look and teach you to see.

You can ask your hands: Who am I? What do I value? What do I want? What do I think? How do I feel? What’s my purpose? How can I improve my relationships? How can I be happier and healthier? What are my obligations and responsibilities? How can I prosper more? How can I be more creative? What do I believe?  How can I be more spiritual? What’s next?  You can become your own best friend and bull-shit detector.

The value of reading hands is in being able to readily and easily identify basic character and motivation. The mystery and magic of hands is that hands change as a person’s thinking and circumstances change. A tiny change in the direction or quality of a line can symbolize a huge change in a life.  As we identify our strengths and weaknesses, we can alter our thinking, exercise our free will, and transform negative thought patterns into positive behavioral patterns. As we make decisions and take action, we can see our successes and failures reflected in the mirrors of our hands over time. After 5,500 years, the ancient science and art of palmistry will be reborn; initiating compelling new opportunities for people to interact and get to know themselves and others better.

In the 20th Century people asked “What’s your sun sign?” In the 21st Century they’ll ask, “May I see your hands?” The paradigm of palmistry as a gypsy fortune-telling scam will be dispelled. ‘Real Palmistry’ (best value) is a must read for anyone who’s curious about what their hands reveal about who they really are. It’s required reading for Mark’s next book, ‘Real Palmistry Stories’. Mark’s mission is to give everyone a helping hand, their own.

Mark Seltman has read tens of thousands of hands of people of every age, gender, race, color, size, shape, career, and socio-economic diversity. Mark’s been featured on The View, Martha Stewart LivingCBS Evening News, Lifetime TV, Queens, FOX Good Day NY,  WNYC Radio, The Frankie Boyer Radio Show, AOL You’ve GotNew York Times, NY Newsday, Daily News, Village Voice, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Manhattan User’s Guide, Family Circle, Modern BrideINSTYLE, CRUSHfanzine, and in Refinery 29. Mark is also featured in these books: The Esoteric Guide to New York     Psychic NY     The 100 Top Psychics and Astrologers in America 2014

Shad Schroeder read my book and totally got what I’d hoped he’d get.  In the comments section below is a partial review he posted on Amazon a couple of days ago. It’s perfect.

Remote Palmistry – A Challenge

Curious hand owners from all over the globe ask me to remotely examine hi-res digital photos or scans of their hands and answer their questions. I’ve always informed them that I don’t provide remote consultations. I encourage them to look for someone locally with a healthy reputation and practice. Phone and Skype readings could be a lucrative activity for me financially, but I’ve always needed to hold a person’s hands in mine, look into their eyes, and communicate face to face with them to accurately assess their needs and address their questions. It’s not easy to counsel people from a distance without generalizing and being superficial. Serious professional palmists, who I know, believe the greatest differences they’ve made are in teaching small groups of students and counseling one person (in person) at a time.

There’s little discussion in the world of self-help of the real purpose of palmistry or of how it equates to knowing oneself and others. Most palmists maintain day jobs and struggle to survive, while gypsy scam artists continue to thrive on their victim’s fears, weaknesses, and gullibility. I’m one of a very few practicing palmists with a devoted clientele and plenty of referrals.

I believe that the time has come to educate the public to the true value and power of palmistry. Everyone who asks, “What’s your sun sign?” should also be asking, “May I see your hands?” The main problem is that palmistry has no spokesperson, no best-selling books, no universally recognized certification, and no real sense of community. I’ve participated in online palmistry forums, hoping to find like-minded individuals, only to discover too many self-absorbed amateurs and a few professionals who think they know it all, arguing online endlessly over meaningless statistics and pseudo-scientific details. I’m not knocking the need for science based palmistry (it’s how I learned to read hands), but the obvious absence of the art and skill of counseling is the reason there hasn’t been a legitimate spokesperson for hand reading since Cheiro (1866-1936).

Naïve and uninformed seekers trust unknown palmists to answer unrealistic questions that no science can answer. “When will I find my true love?” “When will I get married?” “When will I get a job?” “Will I be rich and famous?” “Will I win the lottery?” “How long will I live?” “Who was I in my past lives?” “What’s my future?”

For better or worse, it’s not always what you see, but what you say and how you say it that matters in the final analysis. I habitually ask clients to transform their requests for “Yes” and “No” answers into “How can I” or “What can I do to” questions.

You don’t have to be an expert palmist or to even know palmistry to observe valuable information about your relationships, career, and health in your hands. Assuming that knowing something is better than knowing nothing, then hopefully, one thing will lead to another and eventually millions of people will be examining their own and each other’s hands, looking into each other’s eyes, and discussing their thoughts, ideas, feelings, hopes, fears, and other personal issues.

Content is no longer King and clever gimmicks, hype, and branding are the Emperor’s new clothes. I’m putting my sacred cow out to pasture and catering to the mass media. You may not be able to see everything in a photo, but there’s still plenty of valuable information to be gathered remotely from a person’s hands. I’ll wager I can talk people through seeing their relationship and career potentials in their hands via Radio and TV.

I’ll also challenge anyone who is a great judge of human character to a four hour duel. Here’s how it works. We require two quiet spaces with comfortable chairs and natural light. Forty-eight individuals of various races, genders, and ages will have five-minute readings with each of us. We alternate who’s first. After four hours, independent judges will compare and contrast what participants say about their individual experiences.

CrushfanzineThis is a feature I wrote for CRUSH fanzine. The editor emailed digital photos and scans (awful quality, no detail) of hands of well-known modern conceptual, visual, fashion, and performance artists. I never got to review how my notes were edited before the article was published. I apologize in advance for any misinformation. I’ve made addendums, adjustments, and corrections beneath some my descriptions. If you want to learn more about these artists and what they do, click on their hands to see them in action.
Guido PalauA heart line ending between his index and middle fingers indicates that Guido is practical about his feelings and has no problem “physically” expressing his emotions.
Lady Miss Kier - colorSeveral breaks in Lady Miss Kier’s fate line indicate that she has had career changes and challenges.
LADYFAG
AA BronsonThis was the worst scan. Short index fingers symbolize internal battles with self-esteem starting in early childhood. A close connection between head and heart line at their beginnings impel procrastination, taking things personally, and needing to be appreciated (as opposed to making clear whatever he doesn’t want to do).
ZaldySusanne BartschA ‘cramp’ line under her head line near the percussion of her hand suggests Susanne may have had an unhealthy attachment with mother (as opposed to needing to protect herself from unhealthy attachments).
Cyril DuvalI’m beginning to explore the worlds of pre-teen and teen hands. Stay tuned…