Sagittarius ~ Search for Truth


“He who dies rich dies disgraced”    Andrew Carnegie

No matter what your sun sign, you may have a Sagittarius nature. Pure types have rectangular palms and short fingers with long straight and strong index fingers that stand away from the hand. Strong index fingers symbolize leadership abilities, pride, self-confidence, spiritual or religious affinities, truthfulness, generosity, and idealism in relationships. Pink coloration under the index finger adds enthusiasm and reveals a desire to make a difference. Hands in general tend to be pinkish and healthy looking with mildly flexible joints and firm elastic skin. Finger joints are not knotty and fingertips tend to be round or conical with loop and whorl fingerprints. They’re enthusiastic, idealistic, and confident. They hate being criticized. They love rich food and fine wine. Good luck and positive thinking are attributed to Sagittarius types.

Sagittarians are irresistible when they believe in themselves. They’re eternal optimists, honest and sincere, with friendly charismatic voices designed to persuade. Frequently accused of observing life through rose colored glasses, they tend to see people and circumstances as they want them to be instead of how they really are. Sagittarians are philosophical, expansive, generous, passionate, principled, proud, truthful, and spiritual. They love travel and take time to explore the sites and seek food adventures when they arrive at a new destination. They’re also nature lovers and naturally healthy types. Their physical problems usually result from overindulging in food and drink. Their dark side can be egoistic, tactless, insincere, judgmental, opinionated, hypercritical, hypocritical, impractical, grandiose, arrogant, dictatorial, vain, gluttonous, or philandering. Many journalists, judges, lawyers, priests, teachers, chefs, and salesmen are Sag types.

RobinRobin has a mixture of Scorpio sun (Feeling) and Sagittarian hands. As you can see from her rectangular palms and short straight fingers, she’s an Intuitive type. She’s generous, honest, and truthful. Her inner Scorpion is strong and she must be vigilant to avoid the imprudent temptations that her Scorpio side so easily attracts. She’s a loving mom, fabulous friend, wonderful cook, incredible quilter, knitter, and an avid gardener. Robin’s huge heart and enthusiasm are contagious.

PegasusBellerophon, master of Pegasus, is a mythic match for Sagittarius, which rules horses. Bellerophon was a likeable fellow; however, he depended on his charm, good looks, and luck to save him when his adventures went sour. He symbolizes inspiration and new ideas, which have to be taken with a grain of salt. Use caution if you’re buying a used car from him. Bellerophon’s hubris was his undoing as he tried to fly to Mount Olympus, home of the gods. Sagittarian types must choose a philosophy that helps them become an integral part of a working society and not a Don Quixote tilting at windmills or a person who has everyone else’s answers.

Sagittarius rules transportation. Sagittarians enjoy speed, taking calculated risks, and looking good. They leave racing to Aries and showing off to Leo. The gods of making cars must shift the paradigm of profit before people. Automotive industries need to be more truthful in their actions and spiritual in their visions. By perpetuating the illusion that expensive overly powerful gas guzzling vehicles are glamorous and sexy, car makers and marketers maintain the delusion that it’s OK to deplete our natural resources and pollute our planet. We don’t need hundreds of horses galloping under our hoods. Cars must be designed for our present and future health. We can profit from higher social and environmental consciousness. As our globe warms and fuel prices skyrocket, more fuel efficient, non-polluting, practical, and economical light weight transportation must happen or we will drive ourselves to extinction.

Look at the consequences of our current transportation paradigm. We can go anywhere at any time in the comfort of our cars. Our real and hidden costs are usurious as we guzzle gas, fight oil wars, deplete precious finite natural resources, and pollute our planet. Carbon monoxide hovers around us. Toxic smog poisons major transportation arteries. Traffic proliferates and coagulates like cholesterol on its way to a coronary. Young, old, tired, depressed, angry, drugged, and drunken drivers clot overcrowded roads like varicose veins connecting the festering infections we call cities. Unless we shift our transportation paradigms, we’re steering ourselves toward a dead end.

During the twentieth century, while Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto transited the sign of Sagittarius, politics, big business, and religion transformed forever.

Sandra D O'ConnorWhen Uranus transited Sagittarius from 1981-1988, political gender was shaken up. Sandra D. O’Connor became the first Woman elected to the Supreme Court. Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman nominated by the Democratic Party for Vice President. Benazir Bhutto became the first female prime minister of a Muslim country in Pakistan’s first free election since 1977.


Ronald Reagan 2George Bush Sr. became the first sitting Vice President elected as president since 1836. President Ronald Reagan initiated “Star Wars”, an absurd and overly expensive national defense idea. IBM introduced the first personal PCs to the marketplace.



Uranus is a symbol for sudden and unexpected upheaval and disaster. AT&T’s monopoly was broken up by the Department of Justice. While Greenpeace was protesting France’s nuclear testing, their flagship Rainbow Warrior was bombed. The space shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff while millions watched on their TVs in horror.

Salmon_Rushdie_Sagittarius rules publishing and religion. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced Salman Rushdie to death after publishing his popular novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie’s tales of good and evil stimulated riots in India and book burnings in England.


While Neptune transited Sagittarius from 1970 to 1984, the idealism of the 60’s was replaced by pessimism, marked by a lack of trust in national institutions. The war in Vietnam had made many people cynical. The Arab oil embargo of 1973 created a major energy crisis (allegedly teaching the USA not to take energy for granted) and catalyzed the opening of the controversial Alaska pipeline.

Richard NixonNeptune rules false prophets, delusion, deception, and victimization. Richard Nixon became the first President in US history to announce his resignation. New York became the first city in US history to be bailed out of bankruptcy by the federal government. A popular religious paradigm was shifted when the Catholic Church elected its first non-Italian pope in four centuries. Mother Theresa accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in the name of the poor. Televangelist Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979.

Neptune rules chemicals and drugs. The first test-tube baby was conceived out of the womb. It was the beginning of genetic engineering and new horrors for theologians. Environmentally conscious people protested industries that created “Acid Rain”. The ‘Three Mile Island’ fiasco helped derail several nuclear energy projects. The World Health Organization announced an end to smallpox. A new deadly epidemic was officially named AIDS. Crack cocaine became popular.

Pluto transited Sagittarius from 1995 to 2008. Pluto in Sag is a recipe for upheaval and transformation in politics, big business, and religion. Political extremism, corporate greed, religious fundamentalism, and terrorism came into focus across the globe. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing law student, disrupting the Middle East peace process. Great Britain gave up control of Hong Kong. President Clinton resumed diplomatic relations with communist Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands of Black men flocked to Washington to participate in the million-man march. For the first time in 40 years, Republicans controlled congress. Y2K was not the end of the world.

The sheep are restlessSex scandals rocked the Catholic Church.  The House of Representatives impeached and later acquitted President Clinton for lying about his sexploits. Two students killed themselves after murdering twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado. The Unabomber was caught and sentenced to life in prison. The Oklahoma City bombing established large-scale terrorism by Americans on our own soil. Governmental power was transformed on 9/11, giving leaders ability to supersede human rights and civil liberties. A large political machine preempted war without world consent. A lair of corporate foxes ruled the hen house while a pack of political wolves became national sheep herders.

Saturn returned to Sagittarius on December 23, 2014, after a 30 year journey through the signs of the zodiac. Astrologers have pondered and prognosticated the effects that Saturn will have over three years while it passes through Sagittarius and into Capricorn around Christmas of 2017. Energy, transportation, communications, food industries, housing, healthcare, law, politics, and religious structures will be affected by Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius. Saturn is about taking responsibility and rules big business and bureaucracy. Our external problems are symptoms of false philosophical and ideological paradigms. Our global economy must be reformed in ways that are sustainable for all people. There will likely be a shakeup and shakedown of world leaders. I’m praying for a rebirth of nobility, dignity, integrity, and ethics.

How I lost my Sanity ~ 7

Jack Nicholson - The Shining 2Bad shit happened. Dolores was forced to resign because she was having too many personal problems that got in the way of her being able to properly perform her duties. A new supervisor arrived synchronously as she departed. Dorothy was as far from Dolores as Kansas is from OZ. In her mid-thirties, Dorothy was a Jewish American Princess of the mental illness world. She was petite, well groomed, and shapely, but unfortunately for everyone else, her personality was hard, cold, and phony. She was instantly disliked by patients and staff and had no clue how they felt. They’d smile to her face, then turn away and make weird faces or stick their fingers down their throats.

Nurse RachetI felt nauseous when I moved within ten feet of Dorothy’s sucrose smile and pasty complexion, a result of too much institutional food and florescent lighting. Dorothy was ambitious and spiteful and a contrary stickler for rules and regulations. She was angry and bitter because she hadn’t made it to the top of the trash heap yet. She’d also failed in her numerous attempts to get pregnant. ‘Thank goodness’, I thought. If anyone could mother the anti-Christ, it was Dorothy. As I got to know her, I thought of Dorothy as a festering canker sore from hell. She instantly sabotaged patient progress and undermined my efforts to succeed with my classes. I began to hate her.

Mel GibsonOne day after work, we exited employee parking together. I followed her onto the Styx River Parkway heading south along Purgatory’s east side. High speed traffic was weaving a perilous web of chaos ahead and behind of us. I imagined Mel Gibson in “Road Warrior” as I tailgated Dorothy by inches at over 70 mph. She glanced nervously in her rear view mirror, wondering what I’d do next. I’d pull up beside her, smile, and drop back on her tail. Had she braked, I’d have rear ended her, but I was confident she’d stay cool. That was the beginning of the end of my optimism and my time working at the hospital.

In public service, it’s not so easy to get rid of someone if they don’t want to leave. You have to make a person so miserable that they choose to quit. When I returned to work the following week, Dorothy acted as though nothing had happened. Instead, she enforced the rules to try to force me to give up. She hit me hardest in my most vulnerable spot, my desire to work with high functioning patients. She insisted that I must devote myself to serving the whole patient population. The cabinet was deaf to my argument that there was a lack of meaningful programming for the dozen highest functioning patients. I had built a feeling of trust and had made considerable progress. My other argument was that my salary represented less than two percent of what those twelve patients were costing the state yearly. I began flooding Dorothy with memos justifying my self-created job. I also sent memos to the rehab counselor, cabinet, and the big wigs in the mental health field in Purgatory. My public relations strategy was poorly received by the cabinet. They saw themselves as having been kicked below the belt.

Dorothy countered with an attack on my schedule. She insisted I work three days. She chose days when she knew I had teaching jobs and personal business. I attempted to compromise, but could see my circumstances were rapidly deteriorating into futility. Dorothy told me, “Perhaps you are too creative for the rehab department. There’s no room for your pioneering spirit”. I was summoned to the hospital director’s office for a private conference. She wanted to discuss my dissatisfaction with Dorothy’s supervisory actions, but this was a pretense to warn me that I had better keep hospital business in the hospital. I clenched my teeth and readied myself for battle. I let her know the head of rehab for the whole underworld had told me that our hospital was not permitted by law to operate the sheltered workshop under the plan which her cabinet had approved.

Over the next several months, Dorothy continued to be abusive and oblivious to the needs and concerns of her staff. She pulled rank on everyone as often as possible. Not only we did we feel unappreciated; we were actually degraded and looked down upon. All the members of the rehab staff were eventually forced to resign. Even though I was there the least, I held out until last. Obviously, there was a hidden agenda. Dorothy was mandated to clean house. On my second anniversary, I wrote this letter of resignation.

It saddens me to be writing this. I have been given no choice, but to resign from this institution. Perhaps you have a hidden agenda. Dorothy has been mandated to `clean house’. If this is not the case, Dorothy has forced dedicated staff members to leave. Everyone here was aware of Dorothy’s physical handicaps and personal problems. We tried to empathize and make allowances for her negative attitude, but this is no excuse for her complete lack of caring and support. Dorothy has been brutally oblivious to the needs and concerns of her staff and to the needs and concerns of your patients.

It’s ironic to say that your staff feels underappreciated. Truth is they were degraded and harassed. Dorothy continually made counterproductive and unreasonable demands. She tried to delegate her own responsibilities to Zandor, who received a counseling memo when he objected to doing out of title work. Billy received a counseling memo for his generosity in rewarding the dedicated and hardworking maintenance staff a ‘Thank You’ plaque that he paid for himself. They helped us set up the woodworking shop.

Enclosed is a copy of my latest correspondence with Dorothy. Her response was that I’m “too creative”. The rehab department has “no room for my pioneering spirit”. She insisted I must change my schedule to a Monday or Friday, knowing these days conflict with other work. She threatened to assign me tasks which clearly don’t use my abilities to their best advantage. I’m still waiting for an evaluation that was due weeks ago.

from Michael ClaytonI’m no longer concerned with the future of my career. I’m concerned about the future of patients. They’ve been deprived of caring and capable staff members including Dolores, Bruce, Barbara, Billy, Maya, Carolyn, and Zandor. I plan to take action in order to insure that Dorothy’s horrible behavior is exposed.


I sent copies to Dorothy, the cabinet, and various department managers in the hospital. The cabinet hostilely interrogated me behind closed doors. They were on the defensive and squirming in their seats as they attempted to put me on the defensive. They agreed that I was projecting my unresolved conflicts with my mother onto Dorothy and suggested I seek psychiatric help for my problem. I said I was going to write a book about the experience and approach the media. They said they’d find a way to ruin me.

I found my “I don’t get mad, I get even” button and pinned it next to “Since I gave up hope, I feel much better” on the lapel of my jacket. I’d let down patients who I’d so eagerly promised to help. Gene’s prophecy had come true. I’d disappear and never contact them again. I’d strengthened everyone’s fear and distrust of everyone.

Stay tuned as I begin to unravel…

How I lost my Sanity ~ 6B

Pallet landfill to conference roomClasses were going well. Patients shared their ideas in order to make them more real. I would fabricate parts that were put together by Jim, Juan, and Ethan. Making real objects was great for their self-esteem. Everyone was impressed. The hospital director suggested implementing a pilot project which required redesigning, fabricating, and installing a new office for her. We could recycle materials. Dolores believed this was a perfect opportunity to get brownie points for us. I’d also get approval to design and build a marine and horticultural center in the rehab dept.


Greek UrnEverything was falling into place. Ideas began to gel. One valuable lesson I had learned as an industrial designer was that you get more money for fashion. Recalling the shabby green frog vases I’d seen being crafted in ceramic workshops all over the state, I thought, ‘Why not use the same resources and labor to make handsome Greek urns with unusual finishes?’

Sheltered workshops survived by producing plain outdated designs. They could thrive with smart design and well-conceived manufacturing and marketing plans. Ordinary wooden frames could be transformed into exotic frames with fashionable new moldings. Beautiful mirrors and other framed products could revitalize the industry.

I began to see my pre-vocational class as a small corporation having a dozen workers with talents and abilities I could never afford in the real world. I had a captive audience with nothing better to do with their time and energies than work under my direction. I could arrange for them to make money and challenge them to be responsible for their behavior. It certainly seemed clinically sound to me. I fantasized we’d eventually be the design and marketing arm for the entire Underworld State Department of Mental Health.

We could design products for manufacture, arrange preferential buying plans with other state agencies, and create products for the mass market. I was crafting a timely script, a sequel entitled ‘The Dirtiest Dozen’; how the discards from hell became social heroes. I know it’s grandiose, but I envisioned managing a manufacturing and marketing empire from an asylum; like in ‘Crazy People’ with Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah. Once we succeeded in the world of mental illness, new doors would open to sheltered workshops all over the state. They’d come to be dependent on us for sustenance and nourishment.

There was hardly anyone to share my ideas with. My family was supportive, but believed I’d gone off the deep end back when I decided to work with this population for peanuts. My peers on the job found me metaphysically weird. Sharing anything with them would be a contribution to hospital gossip. My good friends supported me, but they were not a mastermind group. I’d just have to stay focused, moving forward, one step at a time. Every thought and idea could bring me closer to my goal.

Love Bugs

Over the next several weeks, both groups came up with some exciting new concepts. Betsy had an idea for a line of stuffed toys for children that were perfect items for sheltered sewing shops. She called them `Love Bugs’. They were insects like spiders and scorpions. You’d be terrified if they were crawling on you, but instead, they were soft, cute, and cuddly.

modular building blocksDavid and Jim came up with a unique new idea for modular interconnecting building materials. They were kind of like Legos or Lincoln Logs and could be fabricated from recycled materials. We created several prototypes of quarter scale furniture with them. Potential markets were open.



TrojanJack and Virginia created a gimmicky `Women’s Liberation Survival Kit’ ~ a cloth bag made from a military looking khaki material, sewn and silk screened, and featuring a collection of already filled pockets and compartments. These pockets contained things like packs of condoms, a small canister of pepper spray, a compressed air horn, female paraphernalia, cosmetics, and other assorted goodies.


On my own time, I made appointments with buyers from major department stores in order to get feedback and gain additional insight into our products and planning. A few buyers wanted to know when they could purchase some. One buyer expressed doubt about connecting merchandise with mentally disabled criminals. He thought it might detract from their salability. ‘Manufactured by forensic psychiatric sheltered workshops’ was not a great selling point. Our team felt this wasn’t an obstacle. We’d suppress any bad news and glamorize the good news. I was motivated. Patients felt inspired and passionate. Positive behavioral changes were taking place. Everyone began to notice as we made ourselves ready to negotiate with hospital administrations and sheltered workshops across the state. I couldn’t believe how well everything was moving forward.

Stay tuned as everything begins to go south…

Scorpio ~ Search for Love


You don’t have to be a Scorpio to be Scorpionic. Feeling types have long rectangular palms and long fingers. The main difference between Scorpio, Cancer, and Pisces hands is that Scorpios tend to have much stiffer joints, especially the thumb. The consistency of fixed hands is generally denser and the skin is less elastic than cardinal and mutable types. Head and life lines are frequently tied together at their beginnings. Nails are often long and broad with rounded or conical fingertips and well developed knots on the second joints. I’ve seen less vertical lines in the Scorpio ball of thumb. Scorpio has a harder time trusting others as they have so many dark secrets to keep.

Steve StollmanSteve Stollman is a close friend and a Scorpio with Aquarian hands. This is an instance where palmistry and astrology need each other. Some signs are more mysterious than others and Scorpio leads the pack in my mind. It’s easy to see the Aquarian in Steve, but some of his behavior is unexplainable from his hands alone. For instance, you might look at those strong meaty thinking hands and long independent pinkies and think, ‘this guy is good at making $. He does seem to attract it, but for some mysterious reason, he’s very bad at managing it. Steve personifies some of the most positive and negative transpersonal powers of both Scorpio and Aquarius. He satirically cites James Cabel, “An optimist believes this is the best of all worlds and the pessimist is afraid they’re right”. Another favorite saying of his is “The second biggest problem in the world is feigned competence. The biggest is feigned incompetence”.

I met Steve shortly after moving to NYC about 40+ years ago. He was advocating for better working conditions for blind news dealers, laboring inhumanely for peanuts in hot polluted little green wooden boxes on busy street corners. Steve was determined to improve their lots in life and created a woodworking machine shop which specialized in building custom newsstands and street furniture. Steve graciously offered to hire me on my own part time schedule. You would think his large hands and long fingers would embrace organization, but instead, he abhorred detail and loved simplicity. He saw complexity as an obstacle to progress. He’d emerge from his bathroom early each morning with an empty coffee cup in one hand and a dimensionless sketch on toilet paper in the other. “Here, make this”. He’d hand it to me. “What is it?” “It’s a box. We make boxes. We eat, sleep, and shit between ninety degree angles. Just cut the wood and put it together”. I’d sardonically reply, “It might help to know the materials, dimensions, preferred joinery, and hardware.”

Steve’s a paradox. He’s a creative thinker with a heart of gold and simultaneously a one-man obstacle course. I’d clear space to work and within a few minutes there’d be a new obstacle in my way. I couldn’t understand why he always seemed to get in his own way. I used to call Steve a “Would Worker” due to his casual attitude about schedules, structure, discipline, details, and deadlines. Steve called me ‘MEGLOMEGLIAC” due to my incorrigible ego. Steve championed the downtrodden. I was in NYC to become rich and famous. Steve had a sympathetic ear for every indigent person who crawled in from Houston Street. I disparagingly nicknamed his shop the “Houston Street Lonely Hearts Club”. It took me years to realize the very important and valuable social work that Steve was doing. Tirelessly and selflessly, he worked, like Bernie Sanders, a curmudgeon for humanity who’d always show up to testify for the downtrodden at public hearings.

I believe Steve’s true genius is as an artist, a composer, musician, and singer of social ballads. Once you learn to enjoy his raspy ‘Tom Waits’ sounding voice and pay attention to his lyrics, his art is profound. I emailed Steve and asked for some links to his ballads. This is his response ~ has 10 of my songs and links to writing. has the models of Human-Powered Vehicles. Thanks for the plug. It will be interesting to see if anybody responds. Invite responses please.

Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

Bill GatesBill Gates’s Sun, Venus, and Saturn are in Scorpio. His rectangular palms and short fingers reveal an intuitive type. Bill must be passionate and inspired in order to tackle his goals. He’s an aging Luke Skywalker, still learning the awesome responsibility of having and using the force.


Little Red Riding Hood is a Scorpio / Persephone fairy tale. When Bill was Little Red Riding Hood, he was seduced by the Big Bad Wolf while on his way to Granny’s House. They teamed up to deliver costly bundles of goodies everywhere. The Wolf promotes Red, but Red’s actually a very private person. Red would much rather disappear into the electronic ether if he could. Bill’s philanthropy sheds an affirmative light on the Wolf. He needs to give more, wherever, and whenever he can. Plenty of poor people give more time, energy, and money than Bill compared to their income. When I volunteered for the AIDS community in NYC, I was shocked by how many deserving individuals slip through the cracks in the system. Good intentions are not enough.

Scorpios are the best kept secret keepers. The famed former CEO of General Electric is a Grand Master. No memoir will ever reveal his dark secrets. With Sun, Mercury, and Midheaven in Scorpio, Jack Welch is Darth Vader. During his reign, GE benefited the world while their highly toxic dark side was destroying it. I believe Jack turned his back on Mother Nature while GE profitably pumped PCB’s into the Hudson River. Many clandestine behaviors lie hidden beneath the tips of the largest icebergs.

Scorpios must learn to love without lust and seduction and let go of their need to control and possess the objects of their desire. They must maintain a strong sense of purpose, even when they’re warring within themselves. When they love and respect you, they’re fiercely loyal, although their greatest loyalty is always to themselves. Scorpios are creative and imaginative. They envision what they want and know they’ll eventually get it. A near death experience may awaken them to their higher selves. They’re excellent researchers, great problem solvers, sleuthful spies, perceptive psychologists, skillful surgeons, top therapists, and the best and worst mystery, crime, and horror writers.

voldemortScorpio is Hades, Greek God of the Underworld. He’s Pluto, Roman God of Death, Sex, and Transformation. He’s a Devil in Christian myth. He’s Death in Tarot. Darth Vader, Voldemort, the Mummy, and the Big Bad Wolf are the dark side of Scorpio rolled into one. He’s a Rapist, Terrorist, and the Priest who sexually abuses little children. Executioners, coroners, undertakers, and morticians are all ruled by Pluto.

Pluto is lord and master of the sexual orgasm (little death). From first breath to final exit, Pluto patiently awaits you with his kiss of death. Hungry crocodiles, slithery snakes, and poisonous spiders stealthily lurk beneath his sultry surface. The path of too many dark secrets leads to the palace of socio-pathology. Pluto doesn’t get mad, he gets even. Temptation, seduction, and betrayal are his modus operandi. Whether with pleasure or pain, you’ll eventually stenchily emerge from his bowels.

Scorpios can be controlling, compulsive, manipulative, jealous, possessive, fearful,   resentful, obstinate, secretive, suspicious, subtle, and subversive. They make abusive parents, jealous partners, manipulative bosses, and mean spirited jailers who hide their true feelings, especially the shadowy unstable side of their emotional nature. Your friendly neighbor, a model citizen, devoted husband, loving father, loyal friend, and faithful parishioner dies. His family finds hidden pornographic literature, secret love letters, sado-masochistic sexual supplies, illegal drugs, and concealed money.

We hide our most secret lusts for sex, money, and property. Our deepest darkest fears and desires can drive us toward physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual perversions. Everything is ok as long as our secrets stay secret and we hide the truth from ourselves. Many of us rationalize our bizarre behaviors because we can get away with them. The evil Priest feigns love and compassion while he physically and spiritually rapes the innocent souls he has been entrusted to protect. Their Guilt, Shame, Remorse, and Fear closely guard his Evil secrets.

High PriestessPersephone is the feminine side of Pluto. She’s tall, dark, stunning, seductive, and impossible to resist. Helen of Troy was the type, symbolizing the magnetic and hypnotic powers of feeling. Helen was so charismatic that men fell hopelessly in love with her. The Trojan War was fought because of that power. Plutonian types have mesmeric personalities and healing powers. It’s hard not to feel special when you’re around these folks. They bring out the best and worst in us. They frequently wear black or dark colors.



Insurance is Scorpionic. You’ve heard the saying, “The only guarantees in life are Death and Taxes”. Life is not ensured or assured like Death and Taxes, but you can purchase insurance, which 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. Assuming our premiums are paid, we worry less about the costs of bad shit happening to family, health, home, car, property, or whatever we value that’s insurable. Insurance is a form of gambling. Your 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 stakes. You can check your odds by examining insurance actuarial tables and know your prospects by observing your premiums. The insured shoots craps and always loses, even when he wins. My good friend Lloyd tells me he’s depending on Lotto for his retirement. He assures me it gives him hope, “You’ve got to play to lose”, he quips.

Insuring may be confused with ensuring or assuring. Spraying crops with pesticides ensures fewer bugs and weeds. It assures we eat drink and breathe toxic chemicals. Investing Social Security in the Stock Market does not insure that the market won’t collapse. Employees of Enron believed their pensions insured a secure retirement. Drilling for oil in the wilderness does not insure that we will have enough oil. It does ensure and assure that we’ll have social, political, and environmental 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.

Everyone dies. Life insurance protects the living. What are your last years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds worth?  What’s the premium for a graceful painless final exit? What’s it cost to pull the plug? I want to live a long and healthy life and enjoy a quick and graceful final exit. Having an abundance of Scorpio symbolism in my horoscope, I’ve created my very own “Dr. Death Do it Yourself Kit”. It’s a breathing apparatus attached to a tank of helium.  When necessary, I’ll have a logical, practical, painless, and peaceful alternative to facing a future of pain, dependency, lack of awareness, no love, or abject poverty in old (hopefully) age. Read Final Exit by Derek Humphrey if you want to learn more about Dying with Dignity.

Pluto takes twenty years to change astrological sign during which time it disintegrates, destroys, and transforms collective consciousness. Pluto almost doubled its speed when it transited its own astrological home of Scorpio from 1984 to 1995.

Historically, as Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto transited the sign of Scorpio, our views of Sex, Violence, and Death transformed forever. It was a challenging time to keep secrets. Sex combined with death to expose the dark underbelly of Scorpio. HIV came into being while condoms were promoted on national TV to stop the spread of AIDS. Homosexuality came out of the closet to be the topic of everyday conversation. Religious fundamentalists and politicians had plenty to preach about. Sex scandals ousted Senator Gary Hart and televangelist Jim Bakker. Scorpio rules other people’s money and Bakker was later convicted of defrauding his followers of 158 million dollars.

Police bombed the headquarters of a black radical group called MOVE. Terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front seized the Italian cruise ship Achille Laura. Oliver North exposed the Iran Contra scandal. He and Ronald Reagan walked away intact. Terrorists bombed Pan Am flight 103, killing 259 passengers and 11 villagers in Scotland.

Nobody wanted our famous Garbage barge which carried 3,100 tons of Garbage 6,000 miles before returning home to be burned.

“Dr. Death” (Jack Kevorkian) became a household name.

When Neptune (Pisces) transited the sign of Scorpio from 1957 to 1970, it offered an opportunity for spiritual transformation. Neptune regenerates or degenerates. It began with sit-ins and peaceful demonstrations and ended with race riots, terrorist bombings, and hijackings. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by `two of her own bodyguards’. Racial tensions rose. Bernard Goetz shot four young black men in the NYC subway system. He claimed they were robbing him. They claimed not to have provoked him. Political unrest catalyzed the assassinations of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. It was an era of escapism. Drugs, pornography, and indiscriminate sex became normal. Oral sex and contraceptives became popular. Thousands of men went into exile rather than serve in the Vietnam War.

When Uranus (Aquarius) transited Scorpio from 1975 to 1981, it marked the end of the Vietnam War for America and the beginning of new terror in Cambodia. A senate committee admitted that assassination was modus operandi in U.S. foreign policy.

Mass humor was irreverent as seen by the popularity of Saturday Night Live on TV.

Scorpio rules the reproductive system. In 1976, scientists at MIT created the first synthetic gene. The first test tube baby was conceived outside of the womb in 1978.

Scorpio symbolizes powerful women. The Episcopal Church ordained the first woman. Barbara Walters was the first woman national news anchor on ABC TV.

The first Death (Pluto) sentence was carried out in ten years when convicted murderer Gary Gilmore went before a firing squad.

Punk Rock was loud and nihilistic, an unconventional rebellious expression of Uranus.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a cult classic.

Ultrasound became an alternative to x-ray radiation.

Performance art became a new art form.

Palimony suits became popular.

Over 1,000 “No Nukes” protesters were arrested on Wall Street on the 50th anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash.

1980 saw the first professional actor in the Whitehouse following the lowest voter turnout in modern history.

Fidel Castro’s “Freedom Flotilla” embarrassed the U.S. when we discovered that Castro had unloaded his underworld criminals, mentally ill, and misfits on us.

IBM introduced the personal PC and revolutionized the computer industry forever.

How I lost my Sanity 6

I chose twelve high functioning patients for my prevocational design classes. It took a few weeks to obtain permissions from the treatment teams. Zandor persuaded them by clarifying how my classes met clinical goals for each patient. The patients were wary, but said ‘yes’ because I was offering an interesting opportunity for a unique experience.

Initial classes were discussions and planning sessions for future classes. I needed my teams to feel inspired and looking forward to their weekly time slots with me. You’ve met Jesus, Gene, and Benny. Meet David, Jim, and Juan. This is my first session.

DavidDavid was a fundamentalist Jew. He’d been heavily shooting cocaine when he and his best friend fought a life and death battle in a drug-crazed rampage. In the War between Good and Evil, David was God and his friend was the Devil. David’s friend lost. David’s thick, dense, tough skinned hands made me imagine him getting run over by a garbage truck and walking away. It was true. David tried to kill himself by tying a noose around his neck and jumping out of a window. He had the scars to prove it. David nurtured my friendship because I was into Jewish mysticism.


JimJim was the `guy next door’. Obliterated on crack, Jim pushed a stranger in front of a moving train. The man died and Jim was committed to a forensic psychiatric ward. Jim was likeable. He didn’t threaten or intimidate like Gene, Benny, and Jesus. He was remorseful for his actions and hoped to serve his time in the best ways. Jim wanted to be a useful member of society one day. There were three leaders and three followers. Jim, David, and Juan had no desire to lead.



curved pinky finger
Juan was resident Pollyanna. An obvious `brown noser’, he was always sucking up to the biggest assholes. Juan’s pinkie finger dramatically curved inwardly. He wanted to please everyone. The staff appreciated his attitude, but Juan’s ‘Enthusiasm OCD’ was over the top. No one could be pessimistic, sarcastic, or cynical around him. Juan replaced Betsy as manager of the ‘Scene’, the patient newspaper. It was a golden opportunity to publish ‘pep talks’.

We had a compact 12′ X 12′ space. Two large wire glass windows overlooked the Styx River facing Purgatory. All the windows on the 11th floor had unobstructed views. I arranged two 30″ X 60″ tables to create a square conference table to sit around. I wanted everyone to be able to look at each other while we spoke. As I turned off the overhead fluorescent lighting and closed the door, the lack of buzzing became obvious as natural daylight flooded the room.

Our first session was awkward. Patients patiently paused as I peered directly into each of their eyes and prepared to speak. “Thank you for being here. Does anyone have anything to say before we begin?” Labored breathing from chronic cigarette smoking disconcerted me. “Gene, what would you like to get out of the time we’ll be spending together each week?”

“No offense, Mark. I’m curious to see how you’re going to fail. You’re a nice guy with good intentions. No one has ever created anything meaningful here. At the moment, you’ve got energy and enthusiasm. People come and go. Eventually, you’ll get discouraged or be fired and have to leave. We’ll never hear from you again.”

“Are you planning to make your prediction a self-fulfilling prophecy?”

“No. You’ll see. It’s the system. If we do anything important, the cabinet will create a new policy to inhibit or prohibit whatever it is.”

“Leave those problems to me. When they arise, we’ll discuss them together and decide what to do about them. I’ve promised I will give you my best. That’s what I have to offer. If you have something more important to do with your time, you should do that”.

“What would you like to get out of this class, Jim?”

“I’m glad for an opportunity to do anything. I want to make things and work with my hands. I want to go into the building trades when I get out of this place. Maybe I could be a general contractor.”

“I’ll do my best to help you achieve your goals, Jim”.

“What about you, David?”

“I agreed to come here, but I don’t want to do anything.  I’ve never really done anything. I had a sixth grade education, but I study Torah. When I get out of here, I’m going to find a trailer in the woods and live in solitude. I could maybe have a garden and grow some good pot to smoke and study Jewish mysticism.”

“OK David, I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do. When you’re ready, we welcome your participation in whatever way you deem fit.”

Jesus spoke up. “I love gardening. I’m responsible for the care and maintenance of the patient garden in the yard. David, you can help us with planting this spring. We’ll have tomatoes, beans, carrots, and lettuce this year.” David nodded affirmatively.

I thanked Jesus for his offer, “Maybe we can get permission to have an indoor garden for the off season. There’s plenty of daylight and floor space on this building’s southern and eastern sides. I’ll inquire whether space can be designated for greenery. “This is so exciting!” exclaimed Juan. “I can write a monthly column about our class in the ‘Scene’”

“That’s a wonderful idea Juan, but I think we should keep a low profile until we have some momentum. Negative publicity could be destructive to our cause. Let’s achieve something of value before going public. Can you put your communications skills to work by researching other projects and networking with people who can help us?” “Yes!”

The last member was Benny. “Is there anything you’d like to say, Benny?”

“I don’t know what I want… I want to make some money. I doubt we’ll ever see a fraction of what we’re worth and we won’t see that until we’re free.”

“I have no idea how money works around here. I’ll find out. I will say this. There are many ways and means to an end. If we create something substantial, I’ll do my best to arrange escrow bank accounts or find ways to ensure that you’re remunerated properly for your efforts.” I hoped I hadn’t just bull-shitted everyone because I had no idea whether what I said was possible. Our team looked like a reunion of retired vampires having an infusion of fresh young virgin blood. Everyone seemed happy to be there.

You’ve met Betsy, Virginia, and Manuel. Jack was a religious Jew with skull cap on his balding head. Jack had lived a wasted life in habitual shame, guilt, and obligation while caring for a hypochondriac mother with desperate control issues. When Jack turned sixty, his mother’s clutching neediness drove him over the edge. He threatened to kill and then proceeded to strangle her. She narrowly escaped and managed to get him committed. Jack was a whole lot happier in the looney bin than he was with his mother. Jack planned to stay put until she died. He said he’d use his inheritance to start over.

Ethan was developmentally disabled, unable to form understandable words. Seemed like no one ever bothered to try to understand him. Can you imagine how frustrating that must have been for Ethan? Billy and I realized he was highly intelligent when we placed Ethan in the furniture repair program. He was a fast learner and great natural problem solver. He’d choose the perfect piece of wood, screw, finish, or hand tool for the job. Billy and I spoke to Ethan’s treatment team. We learned that Ethan had a severely cleft pallet that prevented him from speaking clearly. A speech pathologist was called in and a plan was conceived to provide Ethan with corrective surgery. This was the first real step in his recovery and rehabilitation.

DickLast and not least, was Dick. Dick made Arnold look like Peewee. He must have been seven feet tall and three hundred fifty pounds of solid muscle. I met him in the art room as he silently crafted tiny clay sculptures with his huge practical hands. One day, Dick said to me, “I’m going to take this place apart tonight.” I meant to tell someone, but the day got away from me. Dick completely slipped my mind. That night, as I peacefully slept, Dick went berserk. Staff and patients abandoned the ward while Dick trashed the place. He picked up and slammed regulation sized slate top pool tables against the wall. When Dick finished wrecking the ward, he fell asleep. Hospital security crept in, medicated him, and put him in a strait jacket. The cabinet wanted to send him back to Criminal Island, but Dick would be murdered there. He’d hospitalized several guards in full riot gear on his first visit to Criminal. Dick liked me. I was glad he was medicated.

I needed to learn more about my twelve patients and began examining their psychiatric records. I kept my research top secret because it would piss off patients and staff if they knew I was poking around. My most shocking discovery was that psychiatrists never seemed to argue with the original diagnosis or treatment plan. The proverbial buck was passed over and over again. Out of concern, I spoke with Zandor. He told me that nobody would take responsibility. What if you declared a patient better and then she murdered someone? It had happened and would happen again. Patient stories were told and not heard, over and over again, before forensic review committees. I felt sorry for the patients who were really growing, learning, and trying to earn their freedom.

I wondered whether there was a secret agenda to keep mental hospitals full. There were more than enough crazies crossing 42nd Street in Purgatory to fill many wards. I began to research the mental health system by attending conferences in Lilith, the state capital, and networking with rehab departments in hospitals and sheltered workshops around the state. ‘Vocational Rehabilitation’ was a gigantic industry, mostly unprofitable, and subsidized by taxpayers. Sheltered workshops were making the same old outdated crap they’d always made. Many had been contracted to assemble items such as pens or package products for a variety of private profit making corporations. There was a huge opportunity here, but I had no real idea of how to tap into it yet.

Stay tuned as my students plant seeds that begin to sprout and flourish…

How I lost my Sanity 5

Chris Winter caricatureA year had passed when I got my first big break to get to know the patients. Rehab was responsible for holiday activities. Halloween was about to happen. “Wouldn’t it be fun if you were our fortune teller this year?” Dolores asked. I became the ‘palmist’, dressed in satin robes with sun, moon, and pentacles (five pointed star). A silver hand hung around my neck. I called myself “M” (caricature by Chris Wynter).




I examined everyone’s hands, pinpointing their challenges and issues and carefully tailoring my words to their ability to understand me. Most patients instantly reacted, “Hey, you’re for real!” or “You really know me!”. Dolores had inadvertently set me up as a confidant for them. Word of my abilities spread quickly. Soon the art room gained many new recruits who became regulars.

Mohamed was ‘a lifer’. I imagined he’d had enough Thorazine to sedate a small army. A very large middle-aged dark black man, Mohamed was a cross between Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley. He was the most popular patient in the place. Mohamed had been a Hell’s Angel, cocaine addict, and cold blooded murderer. He found `religion’ in solitary confinement. I began receiving Plain Truth magazine shortly after I met him. He placed me on their mailing list. I learned about contraband from Mohamed. Patients with money got marijuana, alcohol, extra cigarettes, and other stuff smuggled through security.

A particularly hard not to notice occurrence was the way large quantities of office and recreational supplies would arrive and vanish quickly. I began hoarding yellow pads, pens, and pencils in my desk before they disappeared. Seemed like staff was getting away with whatever they could. Even office machines vanished. When I asked a friend who worked in another hospital about what was happening, she said it was “par for the course”. Many people who work for government agencies have a kind of chronic poverty consciousness that makes them feel entitled to get away with whatever they can. I thought most workers in helping professions don’t take enough for themselves.

Nothing was as it appeared. One security staff member, who always acted friendly with patients, said to me confidentially, “I’d shoot every one of them in the head at night while they slept if I could get away with it”. I pretended he was joking, but was deeply shocked and awed. Watching patients pretend to act how they believed staff wanted them to be got to be a spectator sport. When backs were turned, patients would give staff the finger or a contorted face. Staff would do the same to patients and each other.

There was a state organization whose job it was to inspect state hospital social service programs. I believe it was called `WXYZ’. The hospital got plenty of notice from WXYZ. They’d show up and lots of hustle and bustle would be happening. It was `Show Time’. Everyone was active and cooperative and everything was `spic and span’. We ran as smoothly as a ‘Timex’. Normally, we were pretty scuzzy and programming ran unpredictably. You know… the kinds of things inspectors need to see.

The biggest scam of all was the creation of the woodworking and refinishing shop. The state allots monies for capital improvements and program development each year. Unspent monies are removed from the following year’s budget. A $100,000.00 surplus needed to be spent quickly. The cabinet approved purchasing expensive woodworking equipment for the Rehab Dept. They failed to inform us that the patients would ‘never’ be permitted to use the tools as they were much too dangerous. I had questioned Billy early on about who was going to operate the equipment. He told me that he and I would do all the machining, initially, but eventually patients would be trusted. I disagreed. None of our conjecture mattered, because when the fiscal year was over, the cabinet scrapped the shop. Now they could ask for more money next year.

I figured if everyone else was getting away with things, so could I. I began collecting more artwork. `Gigolo’ worked security at the hospital entrance. When no one was around, he’d wave me past the bag check and metal detector. To my knowledge, even the director of the hospital was scanned and checked daily. I took advantage of his trust in me by waiting outside the hospital entrance until no one was in the foyer. I was ‘Smiley’, so I’d enter the security area with a big smile on my face. Gigolo would wave me on. In my satchel were a camera, tape recorder, batteries, and extra tapes. I began recording patient songs and stories on audio tape. I knew I could, so I did.

Virginia was abandoned by her mother at birth. Fished out of a garbage can, she grew up in orphanages. As Virginia ventured out into the world on her own, she became a magnet for one co-dependent abusive spouse after the other. Virginia prayed her children wouldn’t be forsaken, but they were. Virginia had a grade school education. She never developed work skills. Her children were homeless and starving. She loved them too much to stand by and watch them starve so she killed them. What else could she do? Virginia’s haunting voice expresses the agony of her soul. I found her tunes and lyrics profoundly poetic and deeply disturbing. She asked me to share them.

















Large ball of thumb with and without lines

“Have you ever seen a hand that frightened you?”

That’s a question I often hear. A sweltering day sent a chill through my soul as I first touched Manuel’s hot sweaty palms. Manuel’s huge reddish balls of thumb were full and smooth with no lines. They looked like they’d been stuffed with extra-large eggs. The picture is simulated. The ball on the right is mine. It has many significant relationship lines within the lifeline. I love a lot of people. Manuel had none. He had a mega-dose of desire, lust, and passion; nourished with fear, anger, and hatred, and no ability to have intimacy with another human being. Manuel allegedly kidnapped eight boys, took them to rooftops, raped, murdered, cut their penises off, and then carved crosses in the bases of their skulls.

Manuel pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to a maximum-security forensic hospital for the criminally insane. When I met Manuel, he was dying of kidney disease. He’d been on dialysis machines for five years. His kidneys were shot. There would be no donor for a child serial killer. Manuel’s time was running out. He wanted to tell his story and asked if I would record it. Before accepting Manuel’s word, I examined his hospital records and psychiatric treatment plans. Dozens of articles about the murders were recorded on microfilm in the news section of the public library.

purgatory newsAlthough the evidence was circumstantial, Manuel fit the profile. The media generated a public frenzy. Hundreds of detectives and policemen were on the case. The first suspect had to be disguised as a policeman in order to not be lynched by the public. ” It took over two hundred police, some wearing riot gear, to prevent over 1000 angry people from storming the xxx police station in the mistaken belief that a suspect in the mutilation murders of four young boys was inside the building.”


Manuel’s ball of thumb is the star of his story. Manuel came to the USA from Puerto Rico at age thirteen with his father and brother. He had great aspirations, but got hooked on drugs (marijuana) and headed downhill after that. Manuel said to me, “Drug addiction was in my genes. From the first time I tasted drugs, I never stopped”. A huge round ball of thumb symbolizes sensuality, compulsion, and indulgence. A paradox is that a large ball of thumb can also symbolize a huge appreciation of nature, children, and all things beautiful, along with abundant generosity and warmth. Manuel’s low set thumb and very stiff fingers and life and head line closely tied together at their start symbolizes that Manuel’s bad habits were deeply embedded.

Many thieves and pick pockets have inwardly curving pinkies. Hooked on heroine, Manuel resorted to stealing drugs to support his habit. He hung out with prostitutes and criminals. Meanwhile, his mother died of brain cancer, his sister died of cirrhosis of the liver, his half-brother died of a drug overdose, and his other brother was locked up for murdering their crazy father. Manuel’s tale would make an extremely dark TV sitcom.

Manuel dealt heroine to support his habit. When he turned sixteen, he was arrested for drug dealing. In Purgatory’s “tombs”, Manuel began banging his head against the wall. He was sent to a maximum security outpatient mental hospital to detox and six months later he believed his habit was broken. Manuel discovered he had talents in arts and cooking. He tried living with a woman at seventeen, but he couldn’t stay out of trouble. While in and out of prisons and mental hospitals, Manuel managed to get his common-law wife pregnant three times during his leaves; two daughters and a son. One daughter had to be on dialysis for failed kidneys.

Manuel spent five years in a state penitentiary while his family survived on welfare. The prison system tried to rehabilitate Manuel by teaching him several different trades. He had the best of intentions, but was unable stay out of trouble. Then he found religion and went to live in a church. Becoming fanatical, he began preaching from the bible to his family, friends, and strangers on the street. He claimed he tried to stay away from drugs, but even a drag of a cigarette or sip of beer would rekindle his addiction.

A combination of drugs and religion led to grandiosity. “I was greater than God. I really believed I was Jesus Christ”. Manuel took medication for his hallucinations. On drugs, he could temporarily cope. If he forgot, he’d become mentally and physically ill. Manuel began taking speed and cocaine again. His delusions and hallucinations became grandiose. One forensic psychiatrist described Manuel as a “walking time bomb”, a violent psychopath destined for evil and a forensic lifestyle.

Several authorized and unauthorized exits from QRS, a low security mental hospital, coincided with the mutilation deaths of young boys. Manuel was seen preaching on the streets near the scene of one crime. He was connected to other murder locations because of relatives who lived nearby. Manuel denied killing the boys. He insisted that a court appointed defense attorney talked him into copping a plea of insanity. He claimed he didn’t know anything about the legal system and just followed his lawyer’s advice.

“I was sold down the river. Everyone needed a murderer and I was him”.  Manuel was found criminally insane. There were no more mutilations of children after he was put away. I believed Manuel committed those crimes. I also felt compassion for him. He was born on the short end of a very hard thorny stick in the nature and nurture departments. I felt totally repulsed by him, but I also realized that Manuel might have been a very different person had he had real love and nourishment in his childhood. Manuel could have had a healthier and happier life with the right nurture.

I was reading everyone’s hands, but never shared anyone’s secrets with anyone else. Rehab staff knew, but considered me harmless. They were more neurotic than patients. Many had overdeveloped superegos. They only did what they knew they could get away with. A majority of patients had huge ids and no superego. They did what they thought they had to do, never thinking about the consequences of what they did. They saw only one solution to their problem. On the whole, patients had less peripheral lines in their palms than staff who were more confused.

patient vs staff

Soon a new art therapist would be in place. I began preparing for my prevocational classes. My favorite patients were ready to sign up. A few others I’d I tried to interest remained apathetic. I published an appeal for ‘prevocational classes’ in the ‘Scene’.

Mark is my name. I was `M’, the fortune teller at our Halloween celebration. Many of you know me as part-time art therapist. I’m actually an industrial designer. I design products for manufacturing companies and teach design at local colleges. I also offer workshops to help inventors manifest their creations. My job title here is `Vocational Instructor’.

One year ago (this week), I began working here. I hoped I could motivate many of you to nourish your natural talents and abilities. I planned to offer guidance and support on projects of your creation. I assumed you’d be inspired by an opportunity to work on your own projects. Over the past year, I‘ve heard many reasons why you can’t or don’t want to be involved. You’re so used to circumstances being hard, you can’t imagine anything else. Disappointment is too painful. You’re afraid to be enthusiastic. You’re afraid to trust anyone. Your self-esteem is too low. You’re not worthy or capable, but you are.

I’m appealing to anyone who feels inspired or curious about their potentials and is willing to make a commitment to a weekly schedule to work under my direction. You must be accepted to participate in my class. A brief interview with Mr. Cartozian, Rehab Counselor, will be required. His approval, along with the support of your treatment team will determine your eligibility. If you want my help, you’ve got it.

I promise to dedicate myself to helping class members make their projects a reality. Any project you choose is fine as long as it’s possible. Twelve students will participate in classes. There will be two work / study groups with six students each. Each will meet twice per week; one session on Tuesday and one session on Wednesday.

Here’s my vision: We’re motivated about our projects and willing to do whatever it takes to make them happen. We’re sharing in healthy and constructive ways and learning a lot from one another’s projects. Everyone is learning to draw and make things in our workshop. A variety of projects are happening; works of art, music, writing, and practical items like furniture, magazine racks, floral planters, and boxes of all shapes and sizes. If you can envision yourself in my class, please speak with me directly in the Rehab Department on a Tuesday or a Wednesday over the next several weeks.

Stay tuned as we finally begin vocational classes.

How I Lost my Sanity 4

Two patients were in the art room. One warily tucked in a corner, the other a pretty twenty something African-American woman quietly cutting paper with a child’s scissors.

I gently mused out loud. “You look so healthy and normal. Why are you here?”

“My psychiatrist tells me it’s because I feel no remorse for what I did.”

“What did you do?”

“I killed my roommate. I chopped her body up in the bathtub and flushed as much of her as I could down the toilet. The rest I put in black plastic garbage bags in a dumpster.”

“Did you think you would get away with that?”

“I didn’t think at all. I got the idea watching TV.”

“And you don’t feel badly about what you did?”

“I guess I’m sorry for her family. The girl is dead. There’s nothing I can do about that!”

Mary told me she grew up in a large family with no privacy. She applied for a single room at college, but had to have a roommate. Enduring a year, Mary applied again, but her roommate got it. Mary lost control of her mind and heart and eliminated the problem.

I was glad I’d survived the bog of bureaucratic bullshit. Many strange stories unfolded over the next several months. Every day promised fresh adventure. I was yearning to examine everyone’s hands, but didn’t. I couldn’t wait for astonishing tales and amazing artwork. Many patients had artistic talent. There were even a few professional artists in the group. I supported everyone’s creativity, going above and beyond the call of duty to acquire special materials and supplies for them to work with.

The first patient I bonded with was a refined and cultivated woman in her mid to late fifties. The circumstances that led to Betsey’s hapless and senseless captivity were bizarre. She lived on Treasure Island, a wealthy seaside community near Purgatory. Betsey ran an art gallery, was a gossip columnist in a local paper, and loved to garden. She was an active member of the local gardening community.

A Purgatory lawyer of considerable power purchased Betsey’s adjoining land and let it flourish with weeds and branches that draped sloppily onto her property. Her neighbor‘s lack of landscaping annoyed the hell out of Betsey. One very vexing afternoon, Betsey threatened to chop off every leaf hanging over her domain. Betsey grabbed her axe and severed every limb and brush extending over the line. She was calmly recuperating on her porch, when suddenly and unexpectedly, she was frightened by several police officers in plain clothes who marched aggressively through her gate.

Betsey picked up her axe and attempted to chase them away. The next thing she knew, she was sedated in a psychiatric hospital for further evaluation. Her neighbor had pulled some strings and managed to have her temporarily committed. That’s when extremely serious problems began for Betsey. She got so agitated that Thorazine was mandated and administered. Betsey had a bad reaction to the Thorazine and was rushed to a local hospital where her spleen had to be removed.

Betsey was not a criminal. Nor was she crazy. A series of unfortunate events led to her becoming caught in ‘The System’. Although Betsey had great character references and her son pleaded fervently for her release, no one seemed able to help her. Betsey’s attitude remained positive and optimistic, however, her mental and physical health continued to deteriorate while she lost three productive years of her life.

Everyone admired Betsey. I was the self-appointed president of her fan club. She could draw, paint, and sculpt. She won several patient art awards. Betsey was a positive role model for everyone. She was editor and illustrator of the patient newspaper, The Scene. Betsey also created signage for activities and events. I got special permissions for her to do creative seamstress work. I purchased (with my $) supplies like needles, threads, and unique fabrics for her to experiment with.

Love bug tarantulaBetsey designed lifelike stuffed insects, while planting the seeds of success in my mind. She inspired me to imagine a patient run cottage industry within the confines of our hospital that could serve sheltered workshops in a variety of social / medical networks. We could be their source for design and marketing.

green hand print with poster paintI became braver each day as I talked to patients about their lives. I wasn’t able to divulge or indulge my avocation, but I did begin to look as closely as I could at hands. I made crude prints with poster paint. I assumed that madness would show up in obvious aberrations of their hand morphology and topography. It rarely did, although there were many unusual hands. I saw a lot of frustration, anger, fear, and an uncanny clarity in their thinking. They only saw one solution to their problem, never considering the consequences.


I wouldn’t have predicted from their hands that most of these people would end up committed to mental institutions. Many patients lacked peripheral lines. They were more psychotic and less neurotic than the wounded egos and superegos that cared for them. Many of us have repressed rage, confused minds, and constipated emotions. The healthiest among us harness our strengths, choose our attitudes and actions, and embrace whatever challenges we meet on our path to becoming healthier.

Club ThumbI expected to see more, but saw only one club (murderer’s) thumb in the whole patient population. This guy was like Shrek. Motivated by his passions, he totally lacked impulse control. Another patient’s hands were so soft and supple that his bones felt barely attached. He had no energy, enthusiasm, or desire for anything. I observed a psychotic’s skin that was blood red with repressed rage. Other patient hands were so stiff you couldn’t flex their joints with a nut-cracker. These individuals were trapped, inside and out. I saw schizophrenic hands with two opposing sets of lines in each hand. I imagined two lost souls; opposites, suffering, struggling, and striving to find themselves through him.

Betsy and I loved the symbolism of the Tarot. We consulted the cards many times with many questions. Although we rarely heard what we wanted to hear, we always affirmed what we already knew. I collected birth dates, times, and places, but didn’t explain why.

Most artwork and poetry in The Scene came from the art room. The patient newspaper was a venue for creative expression for patients and staff. It offered hospital news and provided space for patients to express their concerns and share their creativity. It was an important venue because it provided an outlet for frustration, anger, and depression. We spent too way much time complaining and blaming our problems on ‘The System’ and each other. I appointed myself spiritual ambassador and diplomatic good sense maker. Our real enemies were our bad habits, bureaucracy, and time. We were a team whether we chose ‘to be or not to be’.

One patient who infected my psyche with doubt was a young black man in his early thirties who grew up in abusive foster homes. A gentle kindness lie beneath the surface of Fred’s blade sculpted façade. Fred was involved in violence, but it wasn’t knife fights and gang warfare that got him locked up. It was unrequited love. Fred obsessed over an innocent teenage girl who was allegedly taken from him by an older man Fred described as an `abusive maniac’. Fred created realistic ‘WANTED DEAD or ALIVE’ posters of the maniac and posted them all over town, offering a phony ten thousand dollar reward. Fred didn’t realize he was creating evidence that would end him in the looney bin.

Fred 2Fred’s large feminine hands, rectangular palms, long slender knotty fingers, and conical fingertips embody a ‘feeling’ type. It’s a great combo for cultivating intuition, being empathic, making and appreciating art, being good at research, organizing, and paying attention to detail. Fred’s long head line sloped into the heel of his hand, revealing a vivid imagination and rich fantasy life. Fred could copy anything perfectly. He could have been a master forger. I cheered his abilities and encouraged him to draw from real life. I convinced his treatment team and security on his ward to let him have pencils and paper and to allow him to draw with supervision when he asked for them.

political satireFred began a private sketch book. He amassed forty or fifty sketches and drawings in the first month that he showed to no one. I asked to see them. Reluctantly, Fred showed them to me. I was blown away. Several political caricatures like the one on the left were at the beginning. What stunned me were realistic pictures of staff sexually abusing patients. Patients were pleasuring staff in the sickest possible ways. Security, therapists, and patients were having bizarre sex using objects of pleasure and pain. Could they be that crazy? Can they get away it?



Fred certainly had a vivid imagination. There was no way he could have witnessed what he was portraying. I wondered if Fred’s friends were telling him their stories. He let me copy a few drawings. I contemplated the veracity of Fred’s artwork and shared it with Dolores. Betraying Fred’s trust was my greatest blunder and biggest regret. Dolores showed Fred’s drawings to the cabinet. Fred fought fiercely as his drawings and supplies were confiscated. It broke my heart to see him reduced to a drug induced stupor, an artistic genius, never to create (during my tenure) again. I felt responsible and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My second Mary was a high functioning extremely troubled patient. Mary believed she was Satan’s child, a bad seed. Mary said she was three when she first unsuccessfully tried to poison her sister. Then she failed to drown her in the bathtub. A few years later, she tied her to a tree in a lightning storm, hoping she’d be electrocuted. Mary’s staunch Catholic parents enrolled her in a devout fundamentalist Catholic school where they hoped to save her. Mary predictably became more twisted. At sixteen, Mary set a nun on fire and carved her to death with a broken bottle, saying, “The Devil made me do it”.

Mary's devilWhile residing in maximum security, Mary had etched (using a nail file) `666′ in the skin of her arms and legs. She also scratched and carved it into furniture. Mary produced many a dark artwork. I took her drawings home every chance I got. I was learning that it’s not what you do, but what you get away with and how you get away with it that matters.


susan atkin's handI don’t often see frightening hands, but Mary’s were scary. Her very stiff fingers curled inward like Susan Atkin’s (Charles Manson) creepy hands on the left. Mary’s skin was hard, dry, coarse, and reddish. She chewed her nails relentlessly, leaving them red, raw, and sore. Mary was self-critical to the theme of total self-hatred. I wished I could help her let go of her irrational terror, but Mary’s soul was hardboiled from a hellish reality of having to grow up in everyone else’s fundamentalist hypocrisy and insanity.



Mary had a huge crush on me. She was the first to arrive at the art room and the last to leave. I felt a little nauseous when I was alone with her. Even though I was repulsed, I always smiled and acted nice. One day, Mary generously offered to give me a quickie blow-job under my desk. I imagined Fred’s drawings and how easy it would be to become one of his vignettes. Then I thought about all of the abusive shepherds who physically and spiritually rape the lambs they were entrusted to protect. Did the terror of shame, guilt, and disgrace trigger their erotic fantasies? Was the fear of being caught a turn on? When did the Devil sow the seeds of evil so deep within their psyches?

Mary was hovering over me and monopolizing my attention. I got abrupt and impatient with her. The dark rings beneath her eyes began darkening as Mary began feeling rejected. When Mary left, Satan was hard at work, preparing her for evil that night on her ward. It was a full moon. The staff on her ward should have been more vigilant. They’re not lunatic asylums for nothing. After stealing the ‘six’ and ‘nine’ balls from the pool table, Mary loaded them in a black wool sock and nearly beat a new patient to death while she slept. The woman was there for a few days for psychiatric evaluation. Mary said she didn’t like the way the woman looked at her. I imagined she’d think twice before shoplifting again. I felt guilty and responsible. I should have said something.

Gene was the most incredible artist in the hospital. He’d been a successful commercial artist and advertising executive. Scuttlebutt was he’d created some of those TV ads that everyone loves to remember. Gene was unique. He lived like a celebrity on his ward. His private room, the only one, was outfitted with his own furniture, library, audio tape collection, and state of art stereo system, Bose headphones, and a grizzly bear rug.

Gene could have been free if he had wanted freedom and behaved accordingly. I tried to make good sense to Gene and convince him to become an active member of the real world. Gene made his own good sense. He had little interest in worldly freedom. He was free to love his literature, music, and art. I felt a bit jealous of his inner freedom.

A dark satanic aura shrouded Gene. His angry facial expressions and aggressive body language told a tale of uncontrollable rage from a horrible childhood. Gene was hostile. Everything about him screamed, “Stay away from me!” In a jealous fury, Gene slit his girlfriend’s throat from ear to ear. She not only survived, but didn’t press charges, then forgave him. But Gene couldn’t forgive himself. He told me he’d do it again.

Gene's portrait of meGene was the patient Dolores caught in the art supply closet with Janice. Gene and I had many philosophical discussions and co-created several artworks that I still cherish along with this life size pastel portrait which he drew of me. I think he very subtly captures my dark side.

Benny was Gene’s buddy. He was a strong fit black man in his early thirties. Benny’s phobia of homosexuality drove the former transit policeman to a bar full of gay men one late night with an automatic weapon. After freebasing crack, Benny slaughtered eight men.

Benny was uncooperative. He came up bi-yearly for forensic review. He believed he’d be set free one day, but was always rejected. One staff psychologist told me there was a ‘secret’ agenda to never let him go. It was in everyone’s best interest to humor him. If he found out, he’d lose hope, become violent, and need to be permanently medicated.

Jesus ChristMany patients were named after biblical figures and famous people. There were dozens of patients named Mary, Faith, Angel, Grace, and Hope. Whatever their parents had hoped, the reverse happened. Jesus Jefferson was double trouble. Jesus was Puerto Rican. He was the angriest patient in the hospital. Rejected countless times by forensic committees, Jesus had nothing left to lose. Everyone including staff steered clear of him.


Jesus had thrown his girlfriend, 3 year old child, and dog from a 17th story window. They died instantly when they hit the ground. Jesus had no remorse and never spoke of the incident. I had a fantasy that Jesus could be a powerful production manager in a patient run manufacturing business. Two staff psychologists agreed with me, but Jesus was too unpredictable and angry to ever be given any real opportunity to have responsibility.

There was never a dull day in the art room. The handsome young patient, just admitted, had cut his mother’s heart out and ate it with her favorite fork and knife on her favorite plate while reclining in her favorite chair. Another man was found combing his mother’s hair on her mantel piece, weeks after he had cut her head off. The entire residence was laden with lunatics and addicts who’d committed violent acts under the influence of rage and/or drugs. Schizophrenics, sociopaths, psychotics, and pathological liars flourished. One sociopath managed to have a Rolls Royce delivered to the hospital entrance as a result of conversations he had with a dealer from a pay phone in the hall of his ward.

If only I could put all of this talent to good use…

Author’s note: This is fiction set in the mid-eighties. Calling my protagonists ‘Patients’ is politically incorrect. ‘Clients’ and ‘Residents’ are used with less negative connotations and implications. For the record, I don’t call sick people ‘crazy’ or ‘lunatics’ in real life. My artwork has been altered and fabricated by me to fit my story.

Stay tuned as I get to know more patients and prepare to teach vocational classes.

Libra – Search for Other

Libra 2

Libra, the 7th sign of the zodiac rules the 7th house of marriage in western astrology. The autumn equinox is a time for partnership, sharing, and giving. Libras strive for balance, idolize harmony, dislike discord, and hate confrontation. They’re the best negotiators. Libras can be very decisive when it really matters, but they’re infamous when it comes to deciding where to go, what to eat, or what to wear. Libras love being frank and direct, but must realize that they may not be liked for it. They can be aggressive, indirect, and vague at the same time, and still manage to get their way. Some Libras tread a thin line between ethics and honesty. Maybe they know something that could change everything, but fail to mention it. Libras wield logic, tact, and diplomacy like a Samurai Swordsman. Athena’s mighty sword is applied with icy emotional detachment.

You don’t have to be born under the sign of Libra to have a Libra personality. Thinking types have square palms and long fingers. Dominant Libra types have long clear gently curving unobstructed headlines that fork near the percussion of the hand. A cultivated Libra sees every side of a situation. With straight and strong long pinkie fingers, they communicate clearly and directly. Dominant bottom and middle phalanges are favorable for commerce, banking, and real estate. A long top phalanx is best for public speaking, journalism, or law. Strong index fingers make ambitious hardworking managers and powerful leaders. A separation between head and life lines increases personal initiative and spontaneity. The wider the space, the more the person doesn’t care what others think. They do what they must do no matter what. Some Libras are blinded by their need to get their way. Trying to change a Libra’s mind is like playing a game of mental monopoly. The best strategy is to be direct and make good sense.

Healthy Libras have strong handshakes and firm pink elastic skin. Long graceful heart lines extend from under the pinkie to the base of the index finger, embodying romance and sentimentality. Sometimes a branch at the end of the heart line reaches down to touch the head line. These Libras can analyze, rationalize, and compartmentalize their feelings. It’s part of their duality to be hard and soft at the same time. Long vertical lines on the ball of the thumb within the life line are soul commitments to family and friends. The happiest Libras will have several clear lines parallel to their life lines.

Libras are idealistic, romantic, and refined. Aesthetics are important to them. You’ll see Libra professionals in chic designer clothing taking clients out to trendy restaurants. Political, legal, publishing, public speaking, public relations, marketing, higher education, and entertainment fields are burgeoning with Librans.

AthenaAthena is my favorite Libra archetype. Greek Goddess of Wisdom and Justice, Athena rules the strategic thinking required in combat. 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 and cut to the quick. Athena is often pictured with the scales of justice and an owl on her shoulder to symbolize wisdom.


An Athena type came to me for a reading many years ago. I’ll call him Athen. Athen arrived on my doorstep dressed in an expensive designer suit and power tie. I greeted him in my t-shirt and jeans. As a master business plan writer, Athen seemed out of place consulting a palmist in an east village tenement apartment. A friend of his had attended one of my palmistry lectures and gave me a radiant referral.

Athen’s modus operandi was to find floundering companies and create compelling new products or services to point them in the direction of prosperity. In exchange for writing a first class business plan, Athen would receive a nominal fee and substantial stock options. An emperor of illusion, Athen would weave a sophisticated cloak of investment opportunity. Like a tailor, he threaded his needle with enough preferred non-voting stock to begin weaving his wardrobe. As plans took form, the company’s stock would appear more valuable. For a substantial retainer, Athen would help execute his concepts and guide management through the churning rapids of dramatic changes taking place within the company structure. Once the company was able to survive without Athen, he sold off large chunks of his stock and quickly moved on to the next project. Athen attempted to resuscitate several companies that failed without his help. He always prospered.

Athen explained that he was embroiled in a mid-eight-figure fiasco concerning securities fraud. The IRS was a monkey on his back. He needed strategies for the best ways to proceed. Although we resided in totally different worlds, Athen and I immediately hit it off. Thinking types can bounce ideas off each other for hours. We were archetypal from the get go. Athen was Pinocchio. I was Jiminy Cricket. Like Pinocchio, Athen was smart, but surprisingly naïve. Jiminy appeared because Pinocchio lacked a conscience.

It’s possible in business to be legal and unethical or immoral at the same time. If Athen were to put his ever growing nose in the wrong place at the wrong time, it might get chopped off. That’s what was happening. Athen offered me a generous retainer to be his “Jiminy Cricket”. I declined, but accepted occasional payments and gifts in exchange for my time, advice, and friendship. I used astrology to examine Athen’s timing and behavioral patterns. Tarot cards helped us gain better insight into his relationships.

Libra HandAthen is a thinking type with square palms and long fingers. His long unobstructed straight headlines and long straight and strong pinkie fingers with long bottom phalanges are great for commerce. Athen was inherently an honest and caring person. He was ambitious (strong index finger), hardworking, and blinded by his desire and need for freedom, power, and wealth. You can see from the separation between his head and life lines that Athen doesn’t lack initiative. He couldn’t care less what others think of him.

I decided the best way to communicate with Athen was to be direct and make good sense. His long graceful heart line extends to his index finger, representing a romantic and sentimental nature. You can see from the vertical lines within the ball of his thumb that Athen is deeply committed to his family and friends. I first tried appealing to his compassionate nature.

Why not design and promote healthy sensible products (like Paul Newman) and give as much profit as possible to charitable causes? Athen claimed he loved that idea, but rationalized that he needed to be personally more financially substantial before giving money away. I disagreed.

“Does the world really need another greasy french fry, addictive brew, or violent video game? Why can’t the same resources and labor be used to make healthier products and services? Why not make products more expensive and exploit less people along the way?” “More expensive means more grease”, according to Athen. A higher selling price means more time and money spent romanticizing and glamorizing a product or service. Selling less and making more money is a great idea, but doesn’t come cheap.

“It’s the grease”, Athen would say. Why do consumers pay so much more for caffeine at $tarbuck$?  What makes a person buy an expensive designer brand name when they can get the exact same generic item for less? Revolutionary new products or services are sometimes created and protected. Some become generic and incredibly profitable. Most products and services are just variations on existing themes. Athen offered viable alternative business strategies that seemed likely to happen well if well implemented.

It was easy to see who’d actually benefit and who wouldn’t. The cream always rises to the top. The problem is that every scheme where someone is making heaps of money means others are being deceived, exploited, or used. The poorest people are always scraping for pennies at the bottom of the barrel. Laws that protect masses of ordinary people are created long after the reason for them has been abused. It’s no secret that Philip Morris always knew cigarette smoking was unhealthy. By manipulating the legal system, they shirked their responsibilities and justified their actions.

Truman Capote, a Libra, 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.”

Jiminy Cricket guided Pinocchio who eventually found truth and became a “real boy”.  Athen and I weren’t so lucky. Athen ended up losing everything. In Libran style, he started over with fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a dollop of grease. He’s still wheeling and dealing. Pinocchio and Jiminy keep in touch, but no longer collaborate.


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 be in order to partner well with Scott. Scott and Lisa balance each other beautifully. Scott’s strong and firm hardworking hands have designed and built sustainable housing, planted and tended bountiful gardens, and nourished community. He’s also a Tai Chi master, baker, musician, song writer, and good friend. Lisa has strong hardworking multi-talented hands that create many wonderful multi-media works of art and produce many healthy expressive venues for children.

susan alancraigSusan was born on the same day and year as Scott. She has the same planets at the same degrees in different astrological houses. You’d think their hands would be very similar, but they’re very different. Observe the separation between Susan’s head and life line. She has long index fingers that are ambitious, but in a very different way than Scott. Notice how the fingers on her right (dominant) hand lean towards the index finger. A motivated natural giver, she has traversed much of the Third World In the Peace Corp with her partner Orin, helping less fortunate people live better lives. Her language and communication skills are refined. Susan sings in a chorale; her wonderful voice is a finely tuned instrument. She’s a great gardener, cellist, documentary photographer (my website photos), and good 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”. He meant it.


The hardest task in reading hands is learning to judge hands. One person’s long, rectangular, and firm might be another’s short, square, and soft. 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 a bit short for a thinking type. I admit that if I didn’t know Richie, I may have seen his fingers differently, but the opposition between Libra and Aries is powerful. 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. Knowing Richie’s astrology and behavior has influenced how I see his hands.

GaryMy brother Gary has a Pisces sun. He’s a mutable feeling type. With Libra hands, he behaves more like a cardinal thinking type. Gary is a geriatric psychiatrist. I used to threaten to become one of his craziest patients, but then as a Gemini, I decided not to get old. Gary’s Libra temperament graciously and gracefully deals with the most stressful situations. Pisces gives Gary an ability to have the natural empathy and intuition that many Libras lack. Gary is a wonderful 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 the person will verbalize their deeper feelings, especially their negative emotions. Their rational mind controls a very impressionable heart. Add a short index finger and that wreaks havoc on a person’s self-esteem. It makes trying to offer advice to anyone with that combination a challenge for anyone who wants to help. From their personal history, you may learn that one or their parents was emotionally or physically absent during the person’s formative years.

Mohandas GandhiOne highly principled Libra was Mohandas Gandhi, spiritual leader, lawyer, 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. Jim Henson and John Lennon were also Libras who mesmerized masses of followers.

SleepingBeautySleeping Beauty symbolizes a 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. They ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Many Libras have unrealistic expectations of relationships that end up a disappointing reality. Most Libras prefer 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 “think, think, thinking”. Somehow, 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 (Sagittarius), Tigger (Leo), and Eeyore (Capricorn).

Everyone has Libra, Venus, and a 7th house in their astrology. 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 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 Libran logic.

Historically, when the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto transited the sign of Libra, forces of good and evil clashed as we tried to find a balance between optimism, pessimism, tolerance, prejudice, progress, and regress. There was not much social or political stability during these periods.

While the planet Neptune (Pisces) transited the sign of Libra from 1942 to 1957, Nuclear weapons began proliferating. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  President Truman instructed the Atomic Energy Commission to produce an even bigger `Hydrogen Bomb’. The United Nations began blossoming. International cartels became firmly established. The European Common Market was recognized. The civil rights movement flourished. Group psychology became popular. The World Council of Churches was established. Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini, founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was the first American citizen canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

The art world went through dramatic changes.  Allen Ginsberg became a popular poet writing, “I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness”. When Neptune left Libra in 1957, the bestselling novel was Peyton Place   focusing on sexual intrigue in a small town. People born between 1942 and 1957 tend to be overly idealistic in relationships.  They must learn to harmonize, compromise, and sacrifice.

While the planet Uranus (Aquarius) transited the sign of Libra from 1968 to 1975, the spirit of our nation shifted from optimism to pessimism. Faith in progress turned into disillusionment with national institutions and world progress. This period was marked by useless popular inventions like the “pet rock”, giant platform shoes, and shag haircuts. Punk Rock, along with primal therapy and streaking became popular. The Supreme Court legalized abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy (Roe vs. Wade). Governor Wallace, a racial bigot from Alabama, announced that he would be running for President on the newly formed American Independent Party ticket. He threatened to repeal the “so called civil rights laws”. Meanwhile, the most popular show on TV was a comic satire about a racist named Archie Bunker. Diplomat Henry Kissinger approved the financing of clandestine CIA activities in Chile aimed at preventing the election and inauguration of Salvador Allende as Marxist President. Patty Hearst was kidnapped and brainwashed by the Symbionese Liberation Army. A military junta deposed Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.

While the planet Pluto (Scorpio) transited the sign of Libra from 1971 to 1983, growers and pickers finally reached a settlement that ended a nearly ten year grape boycott (led by Cesar Chavez). Farm workers finally had bargaining power. This time marked the official beginning of the environmental movement. The Supreme Court upheld busing as a way of integrating schools.  An assassination attempt left presidential candidate George Wallace paralyzed from the waist down. Prime Minister Idi Amin slaughtered over 300,000 Ugandans and alienated his country from the rest of the world. Violence in Ireland forced Britain to seize control of Northern Ireland and suspend the Protestant controlled parliament. An arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization terrorized the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. In 1975 South Vietnam crumbled, bringing an end to the Vietnam War. Because of the Karen Ann Quinlan case, `right to die’ rulings were enacted all across the USA. The serial killer “Son of Sam” was finally put away after terrorizing the male and female population of NYC. Religious fanatic Jim Jones got his followers to commit suicide. John Lennon was murdered.

John Lennon - Imagine

John Lennon 1940 – 1980

“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”


How I lost my Sanity 3

three patients in one flew over the cuckoo nestAfter six to eight working days, I’d met nearly all of the patients. There were five men’s wards and one women’s ward. The wards traveled around the hospital individually, escorted by SHTA’s. Two or three wards at a time would meet in the rehab department for recreational or religious services. Many patients found religion while incarcerated. There were evangelists, fundamentalists, and self-styled ministers. It seemed like everyone attended every service, even the agnostics, atheists, and heretics. I counted three or four Jewish patients in the mix. Jewish services were the most ludicrous of all. Patients of every shape, size, color, and religious denomination wore yarmulkes (skullcaps) and pretended to partake while chanting a sort of pigeon Hebrew. For attending religious services, patients received extra rewards such as cigarettes, tea bags, and candy. They also hoped to earn a few brownie points with God and the forensic committee when they came up for evaluation.

The next several months were both enlightening and frustrating. It became obvious that I needed more clinical training specific to a forensic population. I attempted to reach out from the Rehab department and make allies on the treatment teams and in the cabinet. Unfortunately, protocol and position are your guides in public service. If you go directly to someone outside of your department on your own initiative, it can be misconstrued as a breach of faith or as a failure on the part of your supervisor to control her staff. Every employee generates truckloads of surplus paperwork and asks permission in writing for everything. I was rejected and Dolores was reprimanded.

My initial impression of the patients was that they were generally dull and apathetic, appearing to be motivated by bribery or extortion. They were bribed with cigarettes (nicotine), candy (sugar), tea bags (caffeine), and little packets of Sanka. These were rewards for good behaviors that I believed were ultimately harmful and destructive. Extortion was punishment for bad behaviors; no rewards, no activities, temporary isolation, or mandatory drug treatments. I was observing `Pavlov 101′ in practice.

Jack Nicholson - The ShiningThere were two types of patients. Nearly all had committed acts of violence. Some were briefly there for psychiatric evaluation. Others were assigned for long term care by the court system because they were too unfit to stand trial or too disturbed to be in a normal prison setting. There were a few mass murderers and serial killers. In person, you’d never know it as they appeared meek, apathetic, and ordinary. I enjoyed chatting with them. As they grew to trust me, they revealed their hopes, dreams, fears, tales of intrigue, and horrors.

Reading handsI was steadily earning the trust and respect of the rehab staff. Within a month, I’d read Dolores’s hands and was being asked by other staff members to share my insights and observations with them. The rehab staff was caring and well meaning. I observed unhealthy doses of neurosis combined with fear, paranoia, and overdeveloped senses of responsibility, obligation, and guilt. I tried my best to be constructive, helpful, and leave everyone feeling hopeful.

I suggested to Dolores that she practice saying “NO”. I advised Zandor not to react negatively to criticism, even if it was personal. I encouraged Billy (Skinny) to lighten up and see reality as it is and not how he wants it to be. I encouraged Luscious Lips to let go of his guilt, cultivate good habits (like controlling his indulgences), and begin to schedule activities to look forward to in his life. I applauded Barbara’s ability to maintain clear boundaries and thanked her for her honesty with herself and everyone else. I cheered Maya’s energy and enthusiasm. I let her know I supported whatever she wanted for herself. I encouraged Janice to see and express herself creatively.

Simian line

My reputation as a hand analyst spread quickly. Soon, I was in the hospital director’s office reading her hands. Dr. Helga presented a caring and friendly demeanor, but after examining her hands for a couple of minutes, I was positive she was acting. She had the stiffest hands and fingers I’d ever felt, along with inwardly curving pinkie fingers, and a deep clear simian line in her dominant hand. Her knotty fingers and long index finger were well suited for detailed directorial work. I imagined her father had been a German SS or gestapo who ran a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. There was no place for emotion in Helga’s dysfunctional formative years. She was calculating, very ambitious, and could not tolerate disobedience. She ordered me to never discuss what I saw with anyone and told me in no uncertain terms to stay away from patient hands. I gained insight into the cabinet by reading several members directly and by observing others surreptitiously at meetings and in casual exchanges without their permission.

It took six months to learn the ropes while I generated and accumulated huge masses of paperwork and proposals. I was nearly ready to present my syllabus for prevocational classes to the cabinet when the hand of fate unexpectedly intervened and a quirky thing happened. Dolores accidentally caught Janice, the art therapist, in the art supply closet with her skirt up around her ears. She was dispensing her own personal method of emotional and physical therapy to one of the male patients. Janice was fired instantly.

Janice had self-destructed. I had lucked out. There was no art therapist and I was the only staff member qualified to fill in until another was hired. I knew quite a bit about art.  That I didn’t know the first thing about art therapy or forensic psychology didn’t seem to faze anybody. I was thrilled to put everything aside to become the new substitute art therapist. I’d really get to meet the patients. Nearly all of them frequented the art room. It was their chance to play with art materials and express themselves creatively. They could sculpt with clay, draw and paint, make collages, write poetry, and play music.

The art room was small and private (14’X 14′). I was happy about that because in addition to having the potential for real intimacy, I was required to inventory every pencil, crayon, scissor, and even staple. These were all considered potentially dangerous weapons. Everything in Rehab was either bolted down or fastened together with special screws and nuts that required special tools to unfasten. Every precaution was taken to protect us from patients and patients from themselves and each other.

Jack Nicholson - The Shining 2One very crazy patient who seriously creeped me out was James. Whenever James’s mother visited him, staff would find him mutilating his genitals with a paperclip, staple, or whatever could cause damage. James eventually died of AIDS after repeatedly letting the other male patients have their way with him sexually. I stayed far away from James’s hands, but do remember the ugly brown tobacco stain between the tips of his index and middle fingers from letting cigarettes burn down to ash without taking a puff.


Initially, I was cautious around patients. I tried to be helpful and spoke little except when spoken to. Sometimes, I’d sketch the patients. I was talented at drawing and sculpting and they began asking for artistic advice. I was happy to provide tips and tricks. It took over six months to locate a new art therapist. It was during this time that I would meet a dozen patients who would influence my destiny.

Stay tuned to meet the patients…

Author’s note: Unless you’ve read the first episode of ‘How I lost my Sanity’, you may not realize it’s fictional. I’ve written it in the same voice as my non-fiction writing, which might create confusion. As I break rules of grammar and syntax, along with a generous helping of political and social incorrectness, a dark light is being shed on the protagonist. I’ve been advised to produce a separate blog for fiction. One friend suggested I write in the third person. For now, I plan to keep posting episodes.

I’m using characters from movies to parody and give faces to the characters in my story. If my novella ever becomes popular, I’ll have to radically alter the images or get permission from the powers that be to use them. If you have any thoughts, ideas, feelings, suggestions, advice, or whatever about anything, please feel free to comment.

How I lost my Sanity 2

fingerprintMy first few days of work were about rules, regulations, and self-defense. There were many more don’ts than do’s. We (newest recruits) were sworn to secrecy, fingerprinted, and instilled with awkward feelings of mistrust. Orientation was designed to help new staff members understand the organizational goals, policies, and procedures affecting job safety, security, performance, and delivery of care. Mainly, we filled out forms, questionnaires, surveys, and evaluations. We were briefed on the nature, structure, and policies of the facility. We learned about patient rights and privileges, rights and privileges of staff, and hospital policy.

The largest portion of hospital staff were security called SHTA’s. They accompanied patients to every activity. I attended life safety training with them: CPR, First-Aid, and Management of Violent Patient Behavior (MVPB). A violent person could `go off’ and all we could do was to defend ourselves. We weren’t permitted to be aggressive. We were taught Judo style moves by serious martial artists and laughed heartily as we fell, flipped each other on gym mats, and got to know each other. We were encouraged to nickname one another to help us connect. Based on obvious personal peculiarities our nicknames stuck. There was `Skinny’, `Luscious Lips’, `Gigolo’, and `Tortoise’. I was `Smiley’. Forever after, we addressed each other by our nicknames.

Fighting with patients was a scary idea. Despite my comprehensive training in self-defense, I envisioned myself grabbing the nearest chair and clobbering a violent patient over the head in a crisis. I’d be instantly fired and then indicted on criminal charges. Fortunately for everyone, most of the furniture was anchored to the floor or walls with specially designed hardware to prevent that kind of violence.

When I wasn’t watching over my shoulder for violent patients, I was cautioned to be on the lookout for ‘bacterial pathogens’ which cause disease. A lot of patients have hygiene problems and are unhealthy. Samplings are taken regularly from surfaces around the hospital in order to monitor disease. There were patients with AIDS. In 1986, that was scary! What if a patient with AIDS bit a staff member? We were briefed extensively on care and prevention. This job began to seem more than a little risky.

How I lost my sanity 2.1I stationed myself ten feet inside the locked entry to the Rehab department. As I waited to meet the patients, I pressed my back against a wall and fiddled anxiously with my fingers. My stomach grumpily complained. When the door finally opened, the most motley crew nature had ever assembled meandered in, looking like animated R. Crumb characters. Many had deranged looks in their eyes. They were so whacky that I felt like laughing. I imagined many had been given massive doses of thorazine. I was seeing my first twenty of over one hundred fifty violent criminals. I couldn’t wait to find out who had done what. I’d heard that there were a few notorious celebrities in the mix, but didn’t obseve any yet.

keys to the looney binI was given a photo I.D. that I had to wear at all times and keys for areas I had access to within the hospital. Keys were given upon entering the hospital and deposited before leaving. Patients observed me with glaring gazes, furtive glances, and random glimpses. I knew they saw me as one more ‘keeper of the keys’ who was trying to figure them out, discipline, or rehabilitate them. One thing for sure, I wasn’t one of them (yet).

I was directed to sit in on patient activities, assist rehab staff, and familiarize myself with patients. The first few days were uneventful. Important goals were getting the patients to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and to try not to be generally disgusting. Another important goal was to get them to stay awake and participate in activities such as art, music, education classes, and exercise. There were no interesting conversations yet.

The rehab staff consisted of nine members. Dolores was Director of Rehab Services. I was right about her. She was caring, but ineffective. She couldn’t say ‘no’ to anyone. She let me serve my half-time position by working two ten-hour days while the hospital’s needs would have been better served if my time were spread over three days.

My `other half’ was a furniture maker and restorer named Billy. Billy was tall, thin, and very bony. He looked like a scruffy middle aged Abraham Lincoln. Billy was one of the hardest working, enthusiastic, and idealistic persons I’d ever met. Like me, he’d never had ‘a job’. An eccentric renegade from societal rules and regulations, Billy maintained a furniture restoration and refinishing business. Like me, Billy had a hidden agenda. His was unselfish and equally unrealistic. He believed that he could actually rehabilitate these crazies and turn them into functioning members of society.

BillyBilly’s ‘feeling hands’ had rectangular palms and long fingers. A general hardness and stiffness in his fingers, along with his knotty joints added to his need to control his physical and mental life. His especially long middle fingers bent towards the top of his ring fingers. As an oversensitive perfectionist with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, obligation, and guilt, Billy would spend endless hours thinking about what actions he would take next.


Insane SantaBilly and I tried to set mutual goals, but my hidden agenda clashed with his. Billy wanted to turn patients into furniture restorers. I wanted to help, but I wanted private time with patients. Billy committed to creating a sheltered wood working shop. I committed to offering design classes to higher functioning patients. I’d also help Billy set up a workshop that would serve the entire patient population. I named the picture on the left ‘Insane Santa’. I’m sitting on Billy’s lap making fun of our Xmas celebration.

ZandorThe Rehab staff was a smorgasbord of affirmative action. Zandor was rehabilitation counselor and second in command. He was Estonian. Zandor should have had Dolores’s job, but management didn’t want a person they couldn’t control in that position. Zandor’s ‘thinking hands’ were complemented by his strong handshake, firm elastic skin, long straight fingers, square tips, and open and frank nails. Zandor had also been abused by too many years in state service. He had a grievance pending against the Public Employees Union for their obvious discrimination against him. Despite unfavorable circumstances, Zandor always presented himself with pride, integrity, and dignity. We quickly became comrades.

BruceBruce (Luscious Lips) arrived at the same time as Billy and me. His meaty practical hands had square palms and short square fingers that were soft and supple with dominant plump third phalanges. His head and life lines were tied together at their beginnings. He was a Taurus type and a huge procrastinator. Bruce was in charge of recreation. He’d served state social service agencies throughout his entire work experience. Sweet and mild mannered, his desire to make a real difference had dulled from too many years of compliancy to authority, rules, and regulations. Bruce had gone as high as he could in institutional politics. He was caring and attentive with the patients, but seemed depressed and resigned to mediocrity the rest of the time. The only times Bruce revealed real passion and genuine enthusiasm was when we talked about gourmet food or going fishing together.

BarbaraBarbara was the school teacher on our team. Her goal was to help as many patients as possible reach high school equivalency. She was a large boned middle aged Afro-American woman and a very kind person. I don’t remember her hands except for her large broad nails and the sparse clear lines engraved in her palms. Barbara had spent many years in state service. She was one of a few who managed to maintain a sense of humor and a life outside of her work. She complained the least of any full time staff member and always kept her cool. Once during English class, one of the male patients pulled out his huge erect penis and started jerking off. Barbara walked over, looked straight in his eyes and without raising her voice calmly said “please excuse yourself and go to the bathroom”. He did. I wished I could have read her report about it.

Bob was the librarian. He reminded me of a Spam and Velveeta cheese on Wonder bread sandwich. Bob was a real life Walter Mitty. He was helpful when asked, but most of the time, gazed into the distance under thick lensed wire rimmed glasses. Whenever I think of him, I can still feel his cool damp mashed potato hand shake that confirmed his total lack of will power, energy, and enthusiasm.

Andrew was art therapist when I arrived. The only thing I recall about him is that he sent his estranged daughter a gross of condoms for her sixteenth birthday. He quipped in his southern drawl, “If she’s going to do it, might as well be safe.” The newest art therapist was Janice. Janice was an unsuccessfully aging frustrated artist in need of a steady income. There was a frequent staff turnover of art therapists.

MayaMaya was recreational therapist. She was young, very private, and a very athletic Afro-American woman. Maya managed sports activities and the patient newspaper, the Scene. Staff liked Maya. Patients loved her. Her powerful ‘intuitive hands‘ were well suited for sports like football, soccer, and wrestling. Everyone thought Maya was gay, but that was nobody’s business.


I was a card carrying member of a band of misfits in search of a fit. On the whole, I liked the rehab staff and felt like I was becoming part of a team. I looked forward to our working together and began to imagine that we might actually make a real difference…

Stay tuned as I prepare to meet the patients…