Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spot Treatment

I have been amused going through some of the old books in my collection and want to bring you some of my favorites. It’s popular to have inconvenient spots and moles removed. A friend just had one treated that might be more serious, so be sure to take note of any change in a spot or a mole on your skin.

I'm vigilant myself because my Dad fought with little skin cancers in his later years, so much so that he developed a crush on his admittedly gorgeous dermatologist and because my sister-in-law has had a few rounds with skin cancer. Here’s an SPF rating that you can use for prognostication. And don't forget your sunscreen when you're enjoying summer sun.

My source is Sibley’s The Popular Fortune-Teller. Mary Greer and I did a brief bit of detective work and determined that my edition is approximately 1872-1874 based on the other books that are advertised in the back and the style of ornament on the cover. This adorable little red book which is actually two books in one has a variety of ways to tell things with objects you probably think of for the task, like cards, and then also with things you don’t usually think of.

If you seek your fortune and your future, look no further than your own mirror, in the privacy of your own home of course. May your own spots bring you fortune like the Ace of Pentacles! Yes, finally, you can try this at home. Below is quoted from Sibley.

Prognostications by Moles.

It is necessary to know the size of the mole, its colour, whether round, oblong, or angular; because each will add to or diminish the force of the indication. The larger the mole, the greater the prosperity or adversity of the person; the smaller the mole, the less his good or evil fate. If it is round, it indicates good; if oblong, a moderate share of fortunate events; if angular, a mixture of good and evil; the deeper the colour the more it announces favour or disgrace; the lighter, the less of either. If very hairy, much misfortune; if few long hairs grow upon it, it denotes prosperity.

2.       A mole on the right side of the forehead or right temple signifies sudden wealth and honour.

3.       A mole on the right eyebrow, denotes a speedy marriage with a person with amiable qualities and good fortune.

4.       A mole on the left of either of those three places announces unexpected disappointment.

5.       A mole on the outside corner of either eye denotes a person to be steady, sober and sedate; but liable to a violent death.

6.       A mole on either cheek signifies that the person will never rise above the mediocrity in fortune; though he will never fall into poverty.

7.       A mole on the nose shows that the person will have good success in his undertakings.

8.       A mole on the lip, upper or lower, proves the person to be fond of delicate things, and much given to the pleasures of love, in which he or she will be successful.

9.       A mole on the chin foreshadows great prosperity and high esteem.

10.     A mole on the side of the neck shows that the person will narrowly escape suffocation but will afterwards rise to great consideration by an unexpected legacy or inheritance. [Hmm, still waiting for that rise and unexpected legacy, methinks, ed.]

11.     A mole on the throat denotes that the person shall become rich by marriage.

12.     A mole on the right breast denotes a sudden reverse from comfort to distress by accidents. Most of his children will be girls. [There is no mention of her which may be too delicate a discussion for the 1870’s, ed.]

13.     A mole on the left breast signifies success in undertakings and an amourous disposition. Most of his children will be boys.

14.     A mole on the bosom portends mediocrity of health and fortune. [One must get out one’s dictionary to determine how bosom differed from breast in the 1870’s, ed.]

15.     A mole under the left breast over the heart foreshadows that a man will be of a warm disposition, unsettled in mind, fond of rambling, and light in his conduct. In a lady, sincerity in love, quick conception and easy travail.

16.     A mole on the right side over the ribs denotes a coward and a person of dull understanding.

17.     A mole on the belly denotes sloth, gluttony, selfishness and slovenly in dress.

18.     A mole on either hip denotes many children, and those that survive will be healthful, lusty and patient in all hardships.

19.     A mole on the right thigh denotes wealth and success in marriage.      

20.     A mole on the left thigh denotes much suffering from poverty and want of friends, as also by the enmity and injustice of others.

21.     A mole on the right knee denotes good choice of partner for life and few disappointments.

22.     A mole on the left knee portends that the person will be rash and inconsiderate, but modest when cool, honest and of good behavior.

23.     A mole on either leg shows that the person is indolent, thoughtless and indifferent.

24.     A mole on either ancle [sic.] denotes a man to be inclined to effeminacy and elegancy of dress—a lady, to be courageous, active and industrious, with some spice of the termagant.

Well! Just in case you aren’t familiar with the word termagant, I looked it up (in Wikipedia, of course) and it is not particularly flattering: “a violent, overbearing, turbulent, brawling, quarrelsome woman; a virago, shrew, vixen.”

If you have a particularly unfortunate mole and your doctor agrees, I think removal is the only reasonable choice to protect you from warnings here. Of course, you may be thinking about seeing if you can have one transplanted to your right thigh. I’m not sure that will work, but let me know if it does. I’d love to hear if any of these are “spot on”!

Best wishes!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Astral Numbers

The instant I got home from Readers Studio, I landed right in the middle of a work emergency. One of my co-workers left for other employment and I’ve been up to my Astral Numbers in spreadsheets, something like the 4 of Pentacles. Let’s just say I’ve had it up to here with foot and tick.

So, in honor of all that, I thought I would bring you a little exercise in Astral Numbers from a book copyrighted 1899. Much like the documentation my co-worker left me, some important details may be missing. I leave it to you to fill in the blanks. Oh, and if you decide to use Excel spreadsheets, please don’t tell me about it. Nothing personal, really. It’s just my nerves.

Excerpt from Occultism Simplified or the Mystic Thesaurus, by Willis F. Whitehead, Past Supreme Grand Vizier, Ancient Order of Oriental Magi, copyright 1899 by The Charles T. Powner Co.:

The Astral Number.

Every person has an Astral Number which represents the conditions and culminations of life. It is formed from the Astral Numbers of the day and month of birth, the year born, and the planetary forces operating on the individual, as denoted by personal history and constitutional make-up. Following are the


Powers of the Planets.

Mercury -               994356                 Saturn -                           241056

Venus -                  964224                 Uranus -                          120528

Mars -                    542376                 Neptune -                        60264

Jupiter -                482112

Powers of the Months.

January -               161624                  July -                              491294

February -              266438                 August -                          324839

March -                  334154                 September -                    353675

April -                    499637                 October -                        227963

May -                     597728                  November -                     217433

June -                    593389                  December -                     188192

Powers of the Days.

1 -      157732                   12 -    622348                   23 -    386152

2 -      213136                   13 -    491128                   24 -    468772

3 -      256876                   14 -    361852                   25 -    683584

4 -      358936                   15 -    236464                   26 -    524176

5 -      461968                   16 -    186892                   27 -    362824

6 -      533896                   17 -    169396                   28 -    269512

7 -      616516                   18 -    154816                   29 -    246184

8 -      656368                   19 -    221884                   30 -    198556

9 -      722464                   20 -    233548                   31 -    163564

10 -    881872                   21 -    274372

11 -    719548                   22 -    376432

CENTURY ORDINATES: 19th, 8331652; 20th, 8331642; 21st, 8331632; 22nd, 8331622. These tables are correct.      

Directions for Casting the Astral Number.

Set down in regular order, under each other, the powers of the planets, etc., as follows:

1.    If a male, set down the power of Mercury.

2.    If a female, the power of Venus.

3.    If single, at present, the power of Mars.

4.    If never married, or a virgin, Uranus power also.

5.    If married now, the power of Jupiter.

6.    If single through divorce, the power of Neptune.

7.    If light complexioned, the power of Venus.

8.    If black hair and eyes, both Mercury and Venus.

9.    If medium complexioned, use no powers.

10. If own father is dead, the power of Jupiter.

11. If own mother is dead, the power of Saturn.

12. Set down power of month of birth.

13. Set down power of day of birth.

14. Set down the year of birth.

Add together. The sum total is the Astral Number.

To test the work, add the four figures of the year of birth together, and their sum, to one final digit. This will also be the “final digit” of the Astral Number.

The Century Ordinate is added to the Astral Number. Analysis is made by means of elaborate books.

When applied to the Zodiac, the operative results of the Astral Number, through analysis, indicate that:

1.    Aries represents a male.

2.    Taurus, a female.

3.    Gemini, a married person.

4.    Cancer, that the mother is dead.

5.    Leo, a dark complexioned person.

6.    Virgo, a virgin of either sex.

7.    Libra, a medium complexioned person.

8.    Scorpio, a widow or widower, or divorced.

9.    Sagittarius, that the father is dead.

10. Capricornus, that the father is alive.

11. Aquarius, a light complexioned person.

12. Pisces, that the mother is alive.

Well, as Mr Whitehead says, “The ideal mystic life must not be relaxed.” So, I’ll be slogging away at the spreadsheets until further notice.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

When Presented With the Choice

Back at another company, years ago, I found I was about to get a new boss. I had liked my old boss and he had liked me. You might think of that as a plus. Ordinarily, when manager and subordinate are high-performing professionals and agree about goals and approaches and other things material to the work environment, it’s a good thing.

I thought so. I had moved to that difficult area from a job I had really liked, felt good about, and received awards many awards for.  Shortly after my old work group had done a group exercise with the official MBTI test, I found out something that did not surprise me, that I was a different Jungian personality type from the rest of my management team.

I had realized that and sought to make that difference the difference. After all, my type is called “results oriented.” To my mind, it was a good fit for a technology director focused on meeting the needs of business. I had a great team of programmers and managers who were tops at churning out projects that worked, that built on the future, that mattered in helping other technology teams meet their project goals. I liked my peers and our differences.

As it turns out, I was the only person on my management team who was comfortable with my results-oriented approach. I liked my job instead of groaning under the tremendous workload. I enjoyed the projects we worked on, enjoyed understanding them, enjoyed working with the programmers about them. I was happy. My team was, for the most part, happy.

My peers and boss in this group, however, were pretty sure I was the puzzle piece who didn’t fit. When it came time to shrink the group a bit, I was the one who was selected to move out. In the shuffle of the reorganization, a miscommunication occurred, however. My boss thought he had placed me in a “great” job in a group called “journaling” which was an accounting area. Unfortunately, the management of that group had placed someone else in that position and I was stuck momentarily without a chair. I was devastated and it was a measurable part of my performance not to show it.

Stripped of my team and without a new position, awkwardly I was asked to stay on as my VP’s special projects person, which is corporate speak for that deadly position indicating you should find another job immediately. I chugged away to create extensive documentation of my area for a quarter which impressed my non-results-oriented VP to no end and he gave me a high rating with shock and surprise, his.

An opening came up that looked good. Well, it looked like the only possibility of an opening in my company. I spent 45 minutes talking to Charlie and knew we were going to get along.

Charlie was from Texas and was about as un-San Franciscan as possible. Politics and the occasional thoughtless joke aside, he was a good, smart guy who would listen to reason and take a chance to develop employees. He sent me to an excellent technology intensive course and helped me learn the ropes. It wasn’t easy, but I latched onto it and gained the respect of people within the group.

I was starting to heal from being booted out of the department that I had helped create from scratch. I was deep into the new position, a nearly impossible job with too many customers who all thought they should be number one on my list and regularly were verbally abusive. One difference I made was not to pass this abuse along to my team, knowing that beating the horsie seldom makes her go faster when you’re using a sledge hammer.

That didn’t mean I didn’t have a standard of performance for the team. So, when one team member had an issue, which Charlie dealt with, fairly, I thought, I had respect for him. Charlie had explained what happened after it was complete without revealing too-personal details. I had agreed with his assessment and decision. We agreed, even on difficult topics. It was a good partnership.

I didn’t realize how important it was to understand how well-regarded your boss is in an organization. As it turns out, Charlie’s boss hated him, hated everything about him. I also had misjudged that she would project that hatred onto me because I worked well with him. She hated the decision he had made, assumed it was made with the wrong reasoning. She brought each person on the team into her office for interrogation about the issue. I gave my honest answer based on the facts as I knew them, allowing for the fact that I was not present at the time of the alleged incident but had spoken with both Charlie and the employee with the issue.

Honesty was not the best policy. Charlie’s boss easily spread her hatred of Charlie to me also and in an instant, although I was aware only of her displeasure at my report, my fate was sealed.

Charlie’s was sealed a lot sooner and within a month he had been fired for not getting along with his boss. And now, I was getting a new boss.

Naturally, with the upheavals I had had in the past three years, I was anxious to know more about my new boss. Following my own quipped advice that it is always best to learn from the mistakes of others, I called a friend who used to work for the new guy. She was an intelligent, outspoken woman and I thought perhaps my own experience might in some ways mirror hers.

“Now that you know him,” I asked her, “what would you do differently?”

She laughed. It was a laugh I came to understand was one of grateful escape.

“With him,” she said evenly, “you constantly must ask yourself with his every word, his every action, ‘Is he evil or stupid?’ In his case, always pick stupid.”

My spirits sunk low. It had been my experience that when presented with the choice in bosses between Evil and Stupid, always pick Evil.

I know it seems counter-intuitive. Evil can be appealed to on some level. You can accomplish great good while justifying your acts to the Evil Boss as something that will advance his position or otherwise appeal to his sense of greed. But, as I constantly warned my friends, the depths of Stupidity have never been plumbed.

I worked for the new guy for about six months. While he was geographically appealing to his boss, the one who fired Charlie, he was much more sexist, arbitrary, capricious, customer-negligent and the epitome of what business people fear in technology professionals: He wanted to spend their money to buy cool new toys, not to deliver business solutions. I did everything I could to remain professional, competent and customer-focused. He was openly skeptical of my abilities, my intelligence, my prospects and my gender.

When the next round of layoffs came, we talked the evening before. He finally loosened up talking to me, saying that he knew he had given me a hard time in the last six months and frankly he was pleased, so pleased with my performance, that the only flaw he could find with me was that I was “too nice.” He said he thought I had all the makings of a vice president, and he wanted to start work on that once all the layoff stuff was over.

I remembered what I knew of him from experience and from advice. I knew what I had read for myself. I told him that if he needed to tell me that I was laid off, please do me the favor of coming for me the very first thing in the morning. He was shocked that I thought that might happen. I smiled. We shook hands and parted.

The next morning at 7:15 am he came to my office, shame-faced and flustered. To this day, I honestly do not think he knew that the conversations he was having with his boss would result in my being let go.

In the Tarot, “stupid” might be represented by The Fool and “evil,” The Devil. If those are your choices, I urge you to draw another card! Neither one makes a good boss. Just don’t be convinced that those are the only two cards in the deck.

Best wishes.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Time, Talent and Treasure

I couldn’t help telling my wonderful chiropractor that I just flew in from New York and, boy, are my arms tired. When those old jokes crop up in unfamiliar places, they get a life of their own again.

But I did go to New York and I did come back home and I was tired all over. Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone are so good to try to warn people not to attempt to do everything at Readers Studio. This tosses the gauntlet down in front of me and my Aries sun says, in my best Inner Child voice, “I can TOO do everything if I want to!” My Inner Child needs a spanking. But, oh, my, what a good time!

Time – This year’s Readers Studio included a new extra day of Psychology & Tarot with three lecturers with expertise and unique points of view. First, David Van Nuys, PhD, of gave his talk on The Power of Story, the Jungian model, the collective unconscious, synchronicity, archetypes, alchemy and amplification. Tossing in a little Joseph Campbell and Dr. Dave easily pointed out that the roots of psychology and Tarot lie in shamanism. Dr. Dave also talked discreetly, for the most part, about some of his own experiences and the evolution of his career. We ended with a little meditation.

And suddenly, I was standing on a rocky shore with a beach below me, looking at the sea and the bright blue sky. I am the 3 of Wands. A seagull cries. OK, break.

Elinor Greenberg’s session was entertaining and informative. What a revelation! Go back to Looney Tunes and notice that the point when Wile E. Coyote falls into the canyon isn’t the instant he leaves the cliff; it’s the moment he notices he is the Fool walking on air. In the spirit of “a bad life makes good art,” we were provided with materials to make our own oracle decks, reducing concepts to a single word or pictograph to trigger the essence of meaning.

Mary K. Greer was a surprise and welcome substitute when the originally scheduled lecturer for the third session called in sick. Her lecture on Intuition and Transference was eye-popping and sparked conversations long after the session was over. She posited some definitions. Intuition was described as personal bias projected onto a situation with its basis in information available within the environment even if not consciously. Intuition differs from being psychic since the psychic arrives at conclusions with no information in the environment. And, from a psychological point of view, tarot works because it is a projection device. Metaphors do not exist in the concrete world. Truth is intersubjective congruence, the story agreed upon with the example given that we would all say the sky is “up” from where we are and, yet, objectively, the sky isn’t really up. You might say the crowd was stirred; for some, these were “fightin’ words.” There are those who must embrace the concrete and nothing else, however, and this was a good reminder of how much of the world views what we do and the ways we get information in a reading or otherwise.

Still, when I read for a client this weekend, I realized their child was “adopted…sort of”, in fact the product of the miracle of in vitro donor egg and donor sperm. I don’t know where I got that information because I don’t know the client at all, but I did see it as a result of the cards. And I met the adorable child, a miracle herself. How interesting are the many ways we seek to understand how that works!

The next day, we started Readers Studio as I have grown used to. My partner for the Foundation Reading was a newbie from India, the delightful Chandni who is a talented young reader.

Our afternoon teacher was Nancy Antenucci. Known to her fans as “Nucc” (say NOOCH), she was our guide to thinking outside ourselves. With grateful thanks to the generosity and energy of wonderful, wise and funny people who could not be there this year, Nucc walked us around the room letting our imaginations take our personas on a short trek to a strange place. When Nucc said, “Now, walk as if the Chosen One is in the room,” I looked up from my feet and there in the streaming ballroom lights was…Paul Nagy. Naturally, I had to tell him about his Chosen Oneness (with profound apologies to James Wells who may have been misinformed).

Favorite Nucc quote of the day: “I found myself too funny there for a minute!”

Lucky me that I was able to attend Carrie Paris’ oracle class in the evening! I dragged my great collection of Junk Oracle toys a/k/a the Choking Hazard Oracle to her class and they were lovely fun to demonstrate. If you see tarot readers with their fingers boxed like a film director, you’ll know we were the ones in Carrie’s class, practicing one of the oldest forms of augury.

My Day Job took my hours from 11 pm to 2 am and interrupted the first half of the next morning’s session with Major Tom Schick. Tom was delightfully “in the now,” something I sometimes call “Be the Dog” since my dog understands “now.” Tom’s point was to approach tarot from a place of love. My favorite statement of his is that Tarot is counter-indicated for narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths because it is a tool for shaping reality.

Our final lecturer for Readers Studio was Ferol Humphrey who brought us her Living Tarot method. We found ourselves blurting the completion of sentences like, “You may embrace…” and turn over the card and blurt. “You may reject…,” turn over the card and blurt. Ferol met her goal of getting us out of our comfort zones!

Talent – I dashed upstairs as quickly as my bad knee and favorite frog cane would take me for a quick costume change. I had to transform into my “altered ego,” the Page of Wands in time for the Readers Studio Banquet and entertainment. I was almost ready when my roomie Beth Seilonen popped in from her table in the Merchants Mall and shrieked with, well, I think it was delight. She made a couple of key suggestions, anchored my tiara in a jaunty pigtail in back, rolled her eyes at the tutu and pink tights and I was ready for show time!

Dinner was delicious but I could barely eat because of the pre-show jitters. I was grateful for the salad and the righteousness of eating just a little of the salmon I had ordered and then, the curtain call!

As the Miscreant of Ceremonies, I was pleased to introduce one of the stars of the tarot world, Ciro Marchetti, who earlier this year announced his retirement from tarot. He presented a video that showed us that Ciro has moves we never even dreamed of and the power of a thrift-shop red jacket. His contributions have influenced the vision and color of tarot forever. I have admired his basilisk lizard-wrangling technique for some time (a lizard took refuge in his kitchen one day and he published photos…Photoshopped? On Facebook) and it was a pleasure to sit next to him for dinner and talk about the future of publishing tarot decks.

For our next act, a musical interlude from a tarot trio: Mike Hernandez on guitar, Jeannette Roth from Tarot Garden and songbird Maribeth Edwards Elliott Pittman sang songs from the Tarot Songbook, the one that isn’t published yet. (Some pipes, there, Maribeth!!)

Our third and final act from our own troupe of Tarot Players of the Tarot Theatre showed us how those really difficult cards in the deck feel when the party hostess says, “Oh, and leave out those scary cards," you know: Death (Rhonda Lund in exquisite skull makeup), the Devil (I maintain Dan Pelletier is typecast) and the Tower (Nancy Antenucci…and that girl can dance). In spite of their costumes having been lost in the mail a couple of times and never actually arriving at Readers Studio, their play was The Thing. I hope I didn’t actually spit coffee on Ciro while I was laughing.

Treasure – Ah, the third of my indulgences at Readers Studio! Where to start? Carrie Paris’ Lenormand Oracle. Beth Seilonen’s decks new for RS13 and a hands on shuffle through her Schiffer-published Dream Raven Tarot coming out later this month. Judy Nathan’s one-of-a-kind deck covers made of antique embroidered silks and other precious materials. Books. I bought books. Lots of books. Decks, oh, I bought decks, all right, thanks to Tarot Garden. I traded for a couple of things at the swap table. Even our extra-curricular bus trip to the East Village was a score when I followed Theresa Reed to Momofuko, a restaurant that makes Ramen noodles like no packaged noodles I’ve ever had, plus a shitake bun, then branched off to nose through shops and find a couple of yummy shawls at the Tibetan shop. All that made up for the bus driver who was lost and the chance encounter by Jeannette and Dan who happened to stumble across our return charter bus. Better to be lucky than good!

I’d like to give a special shout-out to Gina Jean for her mind-blowing perfume creation fresh from Paris, her Oracle Belline. I was the lucky buyer of what will I’m sure be entirely too small a purse spray size of this heavenly scent. Trans-scent-dant, I say, and sure to be an es-scent-tial at future tarot events. I predict this magical perfume will be a future hit!

I loved getting a chance to talk to old friends and make new ones. You'll read more about them in coming episodes. There really wasn’t enough time in the week to talk to everyone but I sneaked a hug in to Donnaleigh de LaRose, Kendra Hurteau and Rachel Pollack, learned that the ever-fascinating Robert Place's friend Phil says that rats taste a lot like squirrel (uh, ewww), met Maralyn Burstein, astrologer extraordinaire, and was thrilled to see SO many first timers at Readers Studio.

Finally, I want to thank someone who could not make it this year. Thalassa Therese, without you, the show would not have been able to go on. On a whim, I packed the red clown nose you gave me. When the theatre troupe’s costumes were lost, that nose became the key element to the Devil’s transformation to a much more user-friendly card!

Oh, yeah. I’m going next year.

Best wishes.
Photos reprinted by permission from Oliver Puzon Photography.