Sagittarius and the Collective Psyche in the 20th Century

Outer planets powerfully influence our personal psyche. They symbolize massive transformations in our collective psyche as they change sign. When Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto transited Sagittarius in the 20th Century, paradigms of politics, commerce, and religion shifted forever.

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

Uranus can represent sudden and unexpected upheaval and disaster. The space shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff while millions watched in horror on their TVs. While Greenpeace protested France’s nuclear testing, their flagship Rainbow Warrior was bombed. Ronald Reagan created “Star Wars”, an absurd and overly expensive national defense idea. George Bush Sr. was the first sitting Vice President elected as president since 1836. IBM introduced personal PCs. AT&T’s monopoly was broken by the Department of Justice.

Sagittarius rules publishing and religion. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced Salman Rushdie to death after he published his popular novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie’s tales of good and evil fueled riots in India and book burnings in England. His huge success fueled Islamic hatred.

 

Neptune transited Sagittarius from 1970 to 1984. The idealism of the 60’s was replaced by pessimism and a marked lack of trust in national institutions. The war in Vietnam united a mass of skeptical protestors ready for confrontation. The Arab oil embargo of 1973 created a major energy crisis, teaching US not to take energy for granted, and conveniently catalyzing the opening of the controversial Alaska pipeline.

 

Neptune rules false prophets, delusion, deception, and victimization. Neptune is also visionary, imaginative, and magical. Richard Nixon was the first US President in history to announce his resignation. New York was the first city in US history to be bailed out of bankruptcy by the federal government. A religious paradigm 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. Genetic engineering created new horrors for theologians and religious extremists. Environmentalists protested industries creating “Acid Rain”. The ‘Three Mile Island’ fiasco derailed several major nuclear energy projects. The World Health Organization announced an end to smallpox. Crack cocaine became popular. A deadly epidemic was officially named AIDS.

Pluto transited Sagittarius from 1995 to 2008. Pluto with Zeus is recipe for upheaval and transformation in politics, big business, and religion. Political extremism, corporate greed, religious fundamentalism, and terrorism began to flourish and thrive across the globe. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing law student. The Middle East peace process was disrupted. Great Britain finally let go of Hong Kong. President Clinton resumed diplomatic relations with communist Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands of Black Men flocked to Washington to march for freedom. It was the first time in 40 years that Republicans controlled congress. Y2K was not end time.

Sex scandals rocked the Catholic Church.  The House of Representatives impeached and later acquitted Bill 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 soil. After 9/11, governmental power transformed, giving leaders the ability to supersede human rights and civil liberties. A large political machine preempted war without world consent. Lairs of corporate foxes ruled the hen house while packs of political wolves managed the sheep.

Saturn returned to Sagittarius on December 23, 2014, after nearly thirty years through eleven other signs. Astrologers predicted Saturn would wield powerful influence for three years as it transited Sagittarius on its way to Capricorn. Saturn rules responsibility, structure, discipline, focus, time, big business, and bureaucracy. Energy, transportation, communications, food, housing, healthcare, law, politics, and religion were changed by Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius.

Sagittarius rules transportation. We’re a long way from the Model T, only a speck in time ago. Sagittarians love prestige and luxury cars as racing is to Aries and showing off is to Leo. The gods of cars must shift the paradigm of profit before people. Automotive industries must be more spiritual in their visions and truthful in their actions. By perpetuating an illusion that overly powerful gas guzzling vehicles are expensive, glamorous and sexy, car makers and profiteers promote a delusion that it’s OK to deplete our natural resources and pollute our planet. How long did we let cigarette companies get away with pretending unhealthy products were heallthy. Do we really need hundreds of horses galloping under our hoods? Transportation needs to be designed for present and future good health. We will profit from higher social and environmental consciousness. As the globe warms and fuel prices skyrocket, fuel efficient, non-polluting, practical, and economical transportation needs to happen or we will drive ourselves to extinction.

We drive whenever and wherever in the comfort of our cars. Real and hidden costs are usurious as we guzzle gas, fight oil wars, deplete finite natural resources, and pollute our Mother Earth. Carbon monoxide and dioxide hover everywhere. Toxic smoke and smog poison arteries while they proliferate and coagulate like cholesterol on its way to a coronary. Too many old, tired, depressed, angry, drugged, and drunken drivers are turning roads into varicose veins connecting festering sores we call cities. We must shift our travel paradigm and steer ourselves far from death and destruction, instead being hopeful and helpful in our intent and actions. Our fate is in our hands.

Greed and prejudice are unhealthy symptoms of powerful partisan political philosophies and pervasive extremist religious ideologies. A global world family and economy must see the forest from the trees in ways that are healthy and sustainable for all. Our values will become healthier when Uranus enters Taurus on May 14, 2018. I’m praying for a reincarnation of nobility, dignity, integrity, ethics, and virtue.

Pisces and Hands

You don’t need a Pisces Sun or Pisces planetary relationships or placements in your natal horoscope to be Piscean. Pure types have dominant top phalanges on long narrow fingers, smooth joints, conical tips, and loop prints, especially on index fingers. All feeling types have long rectangular palms and long fingers. Pisceans have medium set mildly flexible shapely thumbs, sensitive looking fingers, a combination of round and conical fingertips, long narrow nails, and their head and life lines interwoven at their beginnings. Pinkies with tiny bottom and middle phalanges and no knots symbolize not having any need for physical order or material wealth. Feeling types with inwardly curving pinkie fingers hate emotional confrontation. In my experience, Pisceans tend to have more hand and finger flexibility, more peripheral shallow lines, and less deeply etched basic heart, head, life, and fate lines than Scorpio and Cancer types.

Pisces is a personification for spiritual growth. As the astrological home of Neptune (Poseidon, King Triton), ruler of the seas. Pisces embodies emotion, instinct, personal feelings, and the collective unconscious. Neptune can be a calming or destructive force in nature. The King of the Sea rules substances like prescription and recreational drugs, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, or anything that alters consciousness, produces illusions, and feeds delusions. Pisces mundane correspondence is religion. Spirituality is its esoteric match. Spirituality without religion is fine. Religion without spirituality is blind.

Pisces is the most sensitive, least acquisitive, and most introverted of all types. She’s often misunderstood because she communicates through a lens of feeling. Less sensitive, more practical Pisces have strong earth, air, fire, and deep clear basic lines, large thumbs, stiff joints, square fingertips, developed knots, broad nails, and arch and whorl fingerprints. When head and heart are balanced, Pisces can be extremely powerful. George Washington was a Pisces. Former CEOs of Citigroup, IBM, Merck, DuPont, and Bank One were Piscean. One intriguing Pisces CEO is Michael Dell of Dell Computer. Like Ariel, daughter of King Triton, ruler of the Seas and the unconscious, Michael imagines whatever he wants as he swims into collective unconscious. He intuitively knows what the public needs and hones in on that. He must keep a watchful eye on Ursula (octopus conglomerate) who lusts for control of his empire.

Pisces is well suited to teaching, human resources, and helping professions. Many are at home in visual arts and music. Hand qualities will vary depending on their natural talents and abilities, decisions, and actions. Piscean strengths include compassion, humility, and faith. Not known for mental or emotional decisiveness, Pisces are private, spiritual, and hard to be intimate with. Their trust must be earned. Impressionable and easily influenced, some Pisces attempt to escape reality when circumstances get too hard. Many become substance abusers like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lewis, and Liza Minelli.My father was Pisces, along with my brother and daughter. I’ll love and cherish them unconditionally for eternity.

Pisces is intimately connected to the collective unconscious and mundane events. Uranus was the only outer planet to pass through Pisces in the twentieth century from 1919 to 1928. Uranus completed its eighty-four year cycle through the zodiac in 2003 and began its path through Pisces, crossing into Aries at the end of 2011. Let’s observe the cultural similarities as Uranus passed through Pisces in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

When World War I ended in 1919, discrimination, immigration, and consumerism grew.  Uranus left the sign of Aquarius and moved into Pisces. A new kind of rebellion began. Over four million steel workers and miners walked off the job to protest too many work hours with “inhumane pay”. Three Presidents held office during Uranus’s first transit through Pisces (Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover). The 30th President, “Silent Cal” Coolidge (born on the 4th of July) said, “The business of America is business”. He told us, “Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend”, speaking of the “inferior races” of Asia. While focusing on and promoting ‘government business partnerships’, they all put material wealth and unobstructed corporate power in the forefront of the nation’s political, social, and cultural fabric. Government was in bed with big business. On its recent return through Pisces, George W. Bush gave our healthcare Industry to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, energy to big oil companies, and security for airports and seaports in the hands of private enterprise. He even tried to bequeath our Social Security to the Stock Market.

When Uranus transited into Pisces, traditional thrift and austerity gave way to neo-consumerism and buying on credit. Two out of three Americans had electricity, refrigerators, and washing machines. Spending on recreation tripled. Henry Ford announced cars in Green and Maroon as well as black. Mass produced foods: Rice Krispies, Lender’s Bagels, Mounds Bars, Betty Crocker, and Peter Pan Peanut Butter influenced mass taste. Consumerism and credit created the illusion of an easier more convenient life. Movie houses, chain stores, and radio advertising proliferated. By the end of Uranus’s transit through Pisces, movie attendance had outstripped church attendance. Consumer magazines like Modern Romance challenged moral codes. Many critics believed consumerism was driving Americans into a soulless existence of materiality and conformity. Sinclair Lewis, author of ‘Babbitt’, highlighted the delusion of Uranus in Pisces. He blamed mass production and consumption for “having created a bloodless, loveless, and standardized world”.

The Ku Klux Klan had a resurgence that targeted African Americans, blacks, immigrants, Catholics, and Jews. The Klan marched on Washington DC In 1925 with over 40,000 hooded members. New immigration laws reduced the stream of immigrants to a trickle when congress decided to reduce the flow of immigrants based on quotas of 150,000 new immigrants a year.

Uranus in Pisces symbolizes a conflict between science and religion. Modern science clashed with Intelligent Design and Creationism as Uranus transited Pisces in both centuries. Tennessee legislators voted that it was unlawful for any teacher in a state supported school “to teach any theory that denies the story of man’s creation as taught in the bible”. Man was too intelligent to descend from a lower order of animals. One high school biology teacher named John Scopes taught the theory of evolution. As the defendant in the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial” legal battle, John Scopes lost.

Culture clashed with school curriculum, obscenity, censorship, race, and sexuality in theater and literature. The German Bauhaus School of Architecture, with its less is more design philosophy, influenced architecture and products around the globe. When I graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1969 as an industrial designer, ‘intelligent design’ was about making and saving money for manufacturers. No one cared about waste, except for disposal and financial cost. Truly ‘Intelligent design’ is when designers create useful products, choose sustainable resources, determine how much energy will be used in production, know what pollutants are generated, what remedies are available, and how the product will ultimately be disposed of, reused, or recycled.

Common sense is not good sense. The human race has become a race against bad shit happening. Donald Trump has taught us that it’s not what you do, but what you get away with that really matters. Why do we continue to nourish a perverse society with a morbid sense of reality and humor? We can be a lot healthier and happier by taking better care of our planet, ourselves, and each other.

Here are some similarities between the past two transits of Uranus in Pisces:

1919 – The worst baseball scandal (Black Sox) in history occurred when a grand jury brought indictments against eight players from the Chicago White Sox. Accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, they were eventually found not guilty.

2003 – The illicit use of steroids became the biggest scandal in modern baseball.

1919 – The eighteenth amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors, which encouraged home brewing and bootlegging.

2003 – George W. Bush prohibited Medicare from negotiating drug prices. A black market for drugs from India and Canada began to thrive.

1921 – First formal investigations of the Teapot Dome oil scandals were initiated.

2003 – USA invaded Iraq under false pretenses in order to secure oil resources.

1924 – The worst tornado in US history obliterated 35 towns in Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois.

2005 – Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Much has happened since 1919. Not much has ideologically changed.

Neptune takes 164 years to completely cycle through our zodiac. Neptune returned to its home base in Pisces on April 4, 2011 and will remain in Pisces until April 1, 2025. It’s hard to predict what Neptune will symbolize in Pisces because Neptune dissolves the illusion of reality. Many astrologers say that Neptune in Pisces symbolizes the dawn of a new age of spiritual enlightenment. This may be true, but it appears we may have to get there the hard way. Our culture must first lose what we value in order to appreciate it.

Pluto transited into Capricorn in 2008. Uranus transited into Aries in 2011. These three outer planets together symbolize a total transformation of business, energy, politics, and religion. I don’t feel comfortable making predictions about Neptune because it’s so nebulous and fickle, but we can already see in six short years how the illusion of power resulting from extreme wealth has nourished a delusion and disillusion of the 99%.

Neptune rules HMO’s, hospitals, and pharmaceutical industries that value profits over people. Prisons have been privatized for profit and packed with predominantly black petty criminals. Religion has abandoned spirituality, becoming more fundamentalist, fanatical, and violent. Even bacteria and viruses have become a lethal threat to the fabric of humanity. The USA has a president who is certifiably insane and cabinet members whose mandates are contrary to the purpose of their positions. Before Uranus leaves Aries in 2018, we could see a religious war, designed to stimulate our economy, fought by the have nots, and created to pack the burgeoning pockets of the haves.

The Greening of Our Psyche

Humanity needs to open its eyes, minds, and psyches and realize that our physical problems and challenges are symptoms of ideological, philosophical, and spiritual disease. The human race has become a race against bad shit happening.

‘Psychic Pollution’ is the mother of all pollution. It’s the most insidious, contagious, and pandemic of all contaminations, infecting the immune systems of our souls and the spirit of our planet. We must wake up and smell the ‘Psychic Garbage’. Our negative ideas and beliefs are catalyzing the fear and terror that is endangering our good health and the good health of our world. Terror and wrath boil and bubble in a cauldron of trouble. Our personal health and the health of our planet is a consequence of our thinking and feelings. We need to observe our thoughts objectively and realize that all physical manifestation is a result of our thinking. We can close landfills, but what can we do with malignant mind-fills and toxic emotional-spills?

It’s time to look in the mirror. Walls divide, boundaries detach, censorship destroys, and lies deceive. How many gilded towers, glitzy gambling casinos, graven images, beauty queens, shark tanks, and celebrity idols do we need?  Must we prostrate ourselves before an over-clothed self-appointed emperor on a polished brass pedestal? Being financially wealthy and spiritually bankrupt is a strain of spiritual cancer. Preaching love and faith and practicing hatred and fear is not a good idea. Vengeance is not a solution to violence. Enough minds focusing on toxic thought creates self-fulfilling prophecies.

Fortunately, truth disinfects. Hindsight catalyzes foresight. Our present and future is in our hands. Our mother is immune deficient. She suffers from tumor’s we call towns and cities, varicose veins we call roads and highways, cancerous lungs we call air and sky, and polluted arteries we call streams and rivers that are turning our reservoirs, lakes, and oceans into toxic waste sites. Why must everything be bright white, squeaky clean and lemon fresh? We consume massive amounts of highly toxic chemicals every day in our wars with insects, rodents, weeds, dirt, stains, odors, germs, bacteria, pathogens, viruses and other potential and invisible enemies. We’re marinating in the chemicals that heat and cool us; power transportation; provide us with products; color, flavor, and preserve our foods; and enable us to communicate on a grand scale. We eat, drink, breathe, wash, brush, and apply risky chemicals to our scalps, armpits, toes, and crotches.

What has happened to good sense? Why are we debating climate change? Must we always lose to learn to value? Why is pollution profitable? Fossil fuels are finite. Hundreds of horses gallop under the hoods of gas guzzling vehicles that can go twice as fast as our highest speed limits. Screening ourselves from the sun has become a way of life. We will all need air and water purifiers. Oxygen will be marketed over the counter like bottled water. We’ll be able to purchase “a breath of fresh air” at oxygen bars. Designer oxygen masks and lemon scented oxygen will become fashionable. Pharmaceutical, apparel, and cosmetics industries will create new chemicals and products to protect us from their past, present, and future chemicals and products.

In ancient Egypt, Hermes explained that anyone can connect with anyone at any time. As father of the cell-phone, Hermes taught that everything is made up of cells and our brains are the hardware. Our job is to put our minds where we want them to be and then tune our links. Hermes said, “The All is in all and all is in The All”. We create value out of thin air.

By observing our plant world, we can better understand the life cycles of our human world. In order to cultivate a healthy world it is essential to select healthful concepts for planting.  We must clear away destructive and unproductive thoughts and plant positive ideas in our minds. Healthy attitudes and circumstances will enable new hope to sprout. A healthy society must have healthy nutrients and a natural, supportive environment in which to create strong roots. It’s our responsibility to show the world by example that we truly care. We need to pull the weeds of greed and prune the branches of waste in order to serve mankind wherever and in whatever ways we can. We must nurture relationships and conditions that fortify our world. In time, our gardens will bud and blossom. We can fertilize our crop by promoting diversity and achieving unity with other nations that will enrich our garden and prepare us to bear fruit. Many varieties of fruits and vegetables can thrive together in a garden. Many types of people can thrive together in our world. Thinking of humanity as a flourishing garden ensures a bountiful harvest for the soul, an abundance of good health, happiness, prosperity, and peace of mind.

Publicity Stories #5 ~ Radio & TV

I was first interviewed on radio in 1986, a few years prior to the Village Voice feature. WNYC Radio asked me to explain palmistry to their listeners for thirty minutes. I was nervous, but knowing I wouldn’t be seen alleviated my biggest fears. As an NPR affiliate, WNYC generated interest in Boston, Chicago, Albuquerque, Houston, and other cities.

frankie-boyerI’ve had many radio interviews since WNYC. One challenge is that if you have nothing to sell, there’s no way to make $. Even if you have something of value, a lot of people must see it and recognize you. I was interviewed by Frankie Boyer numerous times. Frankie promoted my book during the show. It didn’t translate into book sales. I believed Frankie was the perfect venue for me: syndicated in thirty major cities, Frankie interviewed Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dwyer, John Gray, Dr. Oz, Suzanne Somers, and other thought leaders. Her listeners seemed perfect for palmistry and me. I was wrong. I mostly got inquiries from other media looking for stories. My publicist friend who introduced me to Frankie told me it can take as many as fifty radio interviews before listeners respond.

patti-canovaI prefer smaller venues. My all-time favorite tarot teacher and friend, Patti Canova, hosts a radio show she calls ‘Got a Lite’. How many people are actually listening is hard to know, but shows are recorded and archived online, so fans and friends can hear them anytime. I’ve been on Patti’s show several times. She’s got a loyal following. When Patti says, “Mark is great” or “You need to go see this man”, listeners listen. I got friend requests, likes, follows, links, shares, and a few readings from being on her show. Link to my first show.

anthony-piccoI was interviewed for ninety minutes on a show called ‘Cosmic Tuesdays’ that airs on Monday nights. Anthony Picco, a knowledgeable astrologer with a personable interviewing style, blends the esoteric with the practical in the electronic ether for an earful. Link

bliem-kernTV intimidates me. Appearing on screens has its drawbacks. Viewers can see your awkwardness and self-consciousness. Mistakes are permanent and not easily forgotten (mostly by you). Watching yourself afterwards is sobering. “If only I had done or not done…” I spent my first hour on TV with Bliem Kern on ‘Satellite Psychic’. Bliem’s quirky humor and casual informative style made it easy for me to be myself. We joyfully shared our metaphysical ideas and experience on the air.

 

patti-davisBack in 1994, I read Patti Davis on Lifetime TV, on the same day she came out on the cover of Playboy magazine. We sat apart in ‘the green room’, waiting to go on the show. A frustrated stylist was unsuccessfully trying to put makeup on me while Patti was ignoring me. When the producer walked in, she introduced us. “Patti, I want you to meet Mark. He’ll be reading your hands on the show.” Instantly, Patti was kneeling beside me with her hands in my face. “My family loves this stuff!” We talked about what it was like living with Ron and Nancy Reagan. The first thing the two chatty hosts asked me, “Well Mark, what’s in Patti’s hands that we haven’t already seen?” They made jokes about everything I said. By the middle of the show, I regretted doing it, though I was glad to have met and read Patti.

guru-of-garbageI’d never merged design with metaphysics before now. Combining them turned out better than expected. I was the “Guru of Garbage” on Fox ‘Good Day New York’ and a successful industrial eco-designer who creates new products from recycled materials on Japanese WOWOW TV. My esoteric and environmental worlds were beginning to morph into a new physical and metaphysical awareness.

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Martha Stewart threw an exclusive millennium party at the ‘Four Seasons’ in NYC for celebrities, super stars, and other notables. The theme was metaphysics and Martha’s guests could have quickie counseling sessions with master astrologers, palmists, and tarot readers. I got to read the hands of some of my favorite personal heroes. The other palmist and several other readers had published many more books than me, but I had the longest line of celebrities waiting for their reflections.

Martha’s producer called me later to schedule a palmistry segment for CBS ‘Martha Stewart Living’ for April 2001. Martha’s TV studio had state of the art technology, great food, and a lot of hip well paid young professionals running around making sure all things are perfect at all times. I’d heard Martha was a cold task-master, but in person, she was charming and gracious. She has high expectations and truly wants to offer her viewers the most elegant and sensible solutions to whatever crafts, activities, and challenges she’s choosing to illuminate at the moment. In hindsight, I wished I’d done a better job explaining palmistry to her viewers. You can read more about my reading of Martha’s hands here and watch my favorite minute of my segment on her show here.

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After appearing on Martha’s show, I was nervous that people would recognize me on the street. Fortunately, I don’t think many New Yorkers watch her show. The next call I got was from the producer of ABC ‘The View’. She was planning ‘The View from Beyond’ and was lining up a week’s worth of the best esoteric readers she could find. She wanted me to be the guest palmist and promised that I could present palmistry in whatever way I chose. My problem was that while Martha Stewart’s show was taped and edited, ‘The View’ was live. I could be put on the defensive or get stuck with an awkward question I couldn’t answer and be embarrassed. She assured me the show would go smoothly. It actually went really well until Star Jones inadvertently put me on the defensive. “Well Mark; tell me something the audience doesn’t know about me.” Click here to see the look in her eyes as I respond to her question.

I’d never watched ‘Martha Stewart Living’ or ‘The View’ before they called me. I had no idea how many people watched those shows, but assumed the largest audiences for daytime network TV were suburban housewives and unemployed people. Many more strangers recognized me from my appearance on ‘The View’ than from Martha’s show.

mark-joanna-and-cassie-as-a-newborn2The next call I received was from a producer at AOL in collaboration with Huffington Post. They produced a popular video series called ‘You’ve Got’ which was promoted on AOL. A substantial crew of videographers, lighting experts, and stylists showed up at our little east village apartment with a ton of video equipment. A whole afternoon was spent shooting a 2 ½ minute segment entitled ‘You’ve Got Mark Seltman and Joanna Brotman’. The video was all about how I chose to marry Joanna because of her hands and how reading hands has affected our marriage. This short segment got well over a million views within hours of posting.

Since that time, I’ve been approached by a variety of Cable TV producers with reality TV show ideas. I haven’t said ‘yes’ to anything. I do believe the timing is right for the right metaphysical show. Everyone is searching for answers and many people are turning to metaphysics with questions.  I’d love to participate in something meaningful, but everything I’ve seen so far has been more like a ‘circus’ or ‘dog and pony show’. I have no desire to become the Jerry Springer or Maury Povich of metaphysics.

Publicity Stories #2 ~ The New York Times

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I’d had plenty of press as ‘Guru of Garbage’, but never experienced the ‘power of publicity’ until I was featured on the front page of the ‘City Section’ of the NY Times. The Village Voice article had produced a lot of inquiries, but a small amount of actual business. I realized that today’s news truly is tomorrow’s fish wrap unless you’re waving it in someone else’s face. The significance of the Voice was that other publications and journalists were fishing in my pond for thought-provoking content for their venues.

Manhattan User’s Guide’ interviewed me and created a flow of new clients and parties. Too bad I was selling my time for so much less then. ‘Where NY Magazine’ dubbed me “Weatherman of the psyche”. I liked ‘Whetherman’, but the editor didn’t. Some writers were looking for a free reading. Pitching the article was their excuse. I quickly learned to separate the wheat from the chaff and to avoid questionable press and advertising.

Having fresh publicity facilitated my speaking business. I spoke about the history of palmistry in New York City at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The National Design Museum asked me to create a workshop / lecture series on the symbolism of the sun to complement a major solar design exhibition (testimonial). I’d given previous talks at the museum about designing products with recycled materials.

I was a faculty member of the NYC chapter of NCGR (National Council for Geocosmic Research) for nearly 20 years. I spoke at astrological conferences about combining hands and horoscopes. I offered hand reading workshops at the New York Open Center, Learning Annex, Theosophical Society, and East West Books.

As the eighties came to a close, I was switching back and forth between environmental and metaphysical work. I’d designed and fabricated an ‘all natural’ architectural loft for an artist and award winning film editor in Tribeca. When I completed the project, she celebrated by transforming the space into a salon and inviting a unique collection of notable individuals. She was my Gertrude Stein. That’s where I met Robert Lipsyte.

Bob was a celebrated journalist and novelist. As a 25 year old sports writer for the NY Times, Bob wrote about a boxing match between little known Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston, ‘The Champ’. Destiny united Ali with Bob and marked the beginning of two illustrious careers. Ali became king of the ring, while Bob became a famous sports journalist, Ali’s biographer, and friend. Bob met the Beatles on their first American tour with Ali. Bob also won prestigious literary awards for his YA novels and was the Emmy- winning host of the nightly public affairs show on WNET~ The Eleventh Hour.

ali-and-the-beatles

When Bob found out what I did (besides designing and building lofts), his curiosity was roused. A natural skeptic and cynic, he couldn’t wait to challenge my esoteric mind and ideas. Bob hungered for answers to unanswerable questions. My ambiguous responses made him even more inquisitive. He enrolled in my ‘Metaphysics 101’ class at the Cooper Union. That’s when he jokingly started calling me ‘his guru’.

I think Bob wanted to help me become the ‘champ’ of metaphysics. He asked if he could feature me in the weekend edition of the Times. He also asked me to be a guest on The Eleventh Hour. I said ‘yes’ to both. Unfortunately, the TV show was discontinued before my time. PBS gave his spot to Charlie Rose. I’ve lost touch with Bob, but know I can call on him anytime for any reason and he’ll be happy to hear from me.

Newspapers are good for short term publicity. My big surprise was receiving thousands of inquiries within a few weeks. Momentum from Bob’s article expanded my speaking and party businesses and generated even more free publicity.

Personal Publicity Stories #1

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In 1989, Sarah Ferguson, a freelance journalist for the Village Voice (NYC newspaper) called to interview me for an article she was writing about hand reading. She’d been to several gypsy fortune tellers and her experience impelled her to choose to expose palmistry as a scam. I’d avoided any publicity prior to her contacting me.

At 42, I’d been quietly practicing palmistry, astrology, and tarot for twelve years. I loved my anonymity, but I wasn’t about to let Sarah write that article without meeting a real palmist and that palmist had to be me. At the time, I was known as the ‘Guru of Garbage’, for my innovative uses of waste and recycled materials. I taught ‘Designing with Garbage’ classes at Parsons School of Design and co-moderated a ‘Design for the Environment’ think tank at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in NYC. I was a member of NYC’s Solid Waste Advisory Board, lectured at Universities and museums about designing for our environment, and spoke at community boards about developing better strategies for dealing with community waste. I volunteered for all sorts of eco-projects and preached to the converted for pennies. My design and craft work was exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. I was featured internationally in consumer magazines, newspapers, and on TV. This short video about my recycling and reuse work was featured on Fox, Good Day NY.

After Sarah interviewed me, her story became a feature article and the centerfold of the Voice. My secret and palmistry were out of the closet (so I thought). My good friends were jokingly calling me ‘the word incarnate’. I’d never mixed my design and metaphysics businesses before and was concerned the article would damage my design business. I also imagined people constantly waving their hands in my face. Fortunately, neither of those things happened. The recognition turned out to be positive. Other journalists began calling to interview me for their venues.  That was the start of all sorts of publicity, my obsession with psychic garbage, and the fateful launch of my career as a psychic garbage man. Here’s the article.

How I Created Useful Art from Trash

I’m amazed at the positive response to my Practical Sanctuary post. Here are some more favorite things I recreated from stuff collected from yard sales and our local recycling transfer station. We used to tell our city friends that our country home was furnished in early American white trash. We’ve upgraded the quality of our trash over the years.

Even as a wee tot, Cassie was a hard working apprentice. We designed and fabricated a lot of stuff together. Our first project was a swan mailbox. We transformed a small black plastic mailbox into a beautiful swan by cutting, shaping, forming, and attaching recycled black plastic sheet to the box. Then we spray painted it, pasted our house numbers on the front flap, and placed it on the road. It became a local landmark.

swan mailbox 2Next we built a bunny bench out of recycled plywood, two small branches for ears, three large branches for structure, and reconstituted shrink wrap for seating. The ears didn’t last, so we performed plastic surgery and made matching floppy ears from shrink wrap.

bunny bench

We created a food compost bin out of recycled plywood and reconstituted shrink wrap.

compost bin 2

Cassie raised a baby farm animal each summer. We built a wire pen and an animal hutch out of recycled plywood and plastics. At the end of summer when we had to return to NYC, we gave our creatures to people who would love and not eat them. We got to visit with them over the years. They all remembered Cassie. We got wool from Lilly, our black lamb who became a sheep, and cheese and soap from Zelda, our Alpine goat (my personal favorite) who had an insatiable appetite and babies of her own.

animal hutch

mark & cassie with bunnies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made the roof of the bottom story of our tree house from reconstituted shrink wrap. It’s still in great shape after eighteen years of personal wear and tear, tree sap, and weather.

Cassie in tree house 2

Cassie in tree house 3

Our country home was a disaster waiting to happen when we first arrived. It was dark and moldy with low ceilings, an uninsulated slab, horrible plumbing, cobbled electrics, and a leaky roof supported by rotting beams. Our friends were planning to bulldoze it. We convinced them to let us rent it for a modest fee in exchange for transforming it. The first thing I did was to tear out the ceiling in the middle of the space and reinforce the rafters. Metal joist hangers, corner braces, and connecting hardware make the beams beneath the birch plywood ceiling look like an erector set. Prior to paneling, I cut open the roof and created two round sky lights using large plastic bubbles I scavenged from a ‘going out of business’ plastics sale on Canal Street in NYC. The last thing I built was a loft space for Cassie and her friends to play in and have sleepovers.

Cassie in loft space

Practical Sanctuary

shed 4

I write about hands. Today I’m writing about ‘hands on’.  As springtime refreshes the air, water, and earth and renews the spirit, it’s time to focus on home, health, family, and friendships. A yearly project of mine is to organize all the stuff I’ve accumulated.

One of Joanna’s biggest complaints about me is that I’m a scavenger and a packrat. Since my ‘Guru of Garbage’ days, it’s not been easy for me to let go of anything useful. Even though we donate tons of stuff to yard sales and good causes, I somehow still end up building small sheds with shelves and doors to organize our clutter. They in turn create larger clutter around the property as they consolidate the smaller clutter.

One of my all-time favorite building projects was transforming storage to sanctuary. One spring equinox, several years ago, my shed muse appeared with a substantial supply of free lumber, roofing materials, and windows.

a bike routeI was on my daily bike ride and stopped to check out a property for sale. There were (14) 4’ X 6’ abandoned sliding glass doors leaning against a barn. I called the broker and offered the owner $100 for all of them. He said yes. I borrowed a friend’s truck to transport them to my future clutter control site. Our neighbor across the road had $1500 worth of left over corrugated metal roofing materials he said I could have for free. Another friend was taking down a large cedar balcony and told me I could salvage anything I wanted. I scavenged enough materials from that balcony to build a 12’ X 24’ platform. The remaining building materials and hardware I purchased at Home Depot.

My friend Orin helped me build, level, and anchor the platform. I constructed the wooden frames for the walls horizontally on the platform. I relied on Orin and the kindness of neighbors to help me lift and hold everything in place while I plumbed and fastened them. I screwed (instead of nailing) the entire structure together, creating a building where everything is connected to everything else. Nothing is freestanding

shed interior 2nd story b

shed interior 2nd story a

 

 

 

 

 

Realizing I could build up as well as out, I created a second story for our storage and divided the floor space into thirds. I alternated the corrugated metal roofing materials with corrugated translucent fiberglass materials in order to provide more daylight.

shed interior 1a

shed interior 1

 

 

 

I designed an 8’ X 12’ office space within satellite range so we could have internet.

shed interior 2

I created a small machine shop for my model and talisman making.

shed interior 3

shed interior 3d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also fabricated a small combination greenhouse / guestroom within the structure.

shed 3

shed rear window detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the sliding doors was dedicated to creating a 4’ X 6’ cold frame attached to the greenhouse. I also built a carport on the back of the building to store our Toyota in the winter. It transforms into a small machine shop for medium size building projects in the spring, summer, and autumn.

There were enough left over building materials from our friend’s balcony to build the third story of our treehouse. It’s been great for meditation and children’s sleepovers.

shed - view of 3 story tree house

constructing 2nd story of treehouse

tree houses 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tree house ladder

view from tree house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sagittarius ~ Search for Truth

Sagittarius

“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 ~ 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…