Mercury Retro and a New Litany

On December 4, just a day into the Mercury retrograde, I walked out to my leased car, a 2016 Mazda 3, which Rob and I were going to drive to the gym. I noticed that when I pressed my smart key to open the door, it didn’t work. Fortunately, the car was unlocked and I got inside, pressed the start button. Nothing.

Rob’s key didn’t work, either. The fact that neither key worked pointed to a dead battery.

Welcome to Mercury retro, I thought, resigned to the idea that things would now go haywire.

I called AAA and figured I would have a wait for an hour or more. But that really wasn’t acceptable, I had stuff to do that required a car. I felt adamant about this, imagined the AAA truck pulling up in our driveway in minutes.

Five minutes after I placed my call, got a call from the AAA driver, saying he was nearby and would be at our place in 5 minutes. Wow, I thought. About 30 minutes later, he left, my car had a new battery that would be good for three years, and I happily went about my day.

Most of the time, Mercury retrogrades fit Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will. But on this particular day, I thought of the bumper sticker on the back of our other car: If anything can go well, it will. We bought this sticker in a bookstore in Orlando some years ago and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

I walked out to the other car to take a picture of that bumper sticker this evening so I could use it in this post, but it was too dark. Yeah, I could have waited until morning to take the photo, but figured maybe I could find an image of it online to use. Instead, I found this cool video about the genesis of the sticker, from the man – Gene – who invented it.

So, from now on, before a Mercury retro begins, Gene’s litany will be where I place my focus – on what can go right instead of on what can go wrong.

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When the Dead Influence the Living

While Megan was home for the Thanksgiving weekend, we watched a Netflix documentary called, Jim & Andy. It’s the behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of Man on the Moon, in which Jim Carrey plays the later crazed comedian Andy Kaufman. In the documentary, Carrey says that he channeled Kaufman and was constantly in-character during the time the movie was being filmed.

Many people who knew Kaufman were astonished by how similar Carrey looked and acted to Kaufman. Even Kaufman’s father hugged Carrey, in a behind the scenes clip, as if Carrey was his son. His out-of-wedlock daughter, who Kaufman never met, talked to Carrey for an hour and as if the daughter was meeting her father for the first time.

After watching the documentary, we talked about the idea of spirits of the dead influencing creative efforts of the living. That was when I recalled my own similar experience when I literally ‘ghost-wrote’ a book in 1991 for an author who had died after writing a few short introductory chapters. I later wrote about the experience in a blog post in 2007. Here it is, unedited.
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Years ago, an editor asked me if I would be interested in completing a novel for an author who had died. He was forty and passed on very suddenly of a heart attack. He’d written four chapters and left behind an outline.

Trish and I knew him–though we’d never met in person. He and Trish had the same editor and agent. We’d exchanged e-mails and participated in the same mystery novel blog on GEnie, back in pre-Internet days. (They didn’t call them blogs, though.)

I worked on the novel for a few months, and from time to time I felt the author, Dave Pedneau, standing behind me, watching, and sometimes I thought he was laughing! It was kind of eerie. So I wrote faster. Finally, I finished the novel, but there was one thing I hadn’t figured out. Oddly enough, I didn’t know what the title meant. He used law enforcement acronyms for his novels, like B.O.L.O. (Be On the Lookout), or A.K.A. (Also Known As). But this one just had the letters: N.F.D. with no parenthetical meaning and I had no idea what it meant. I couldn’t tell from the story, either. Finally, just before I turned it in, I asked a cop at the gym if he knew. He frowned, then said: “Oh, that’s easy: No Fricking Deal.” Though ‘fricking’ was not quite the way he put it.

That was the title of the book! Suddenly, I knew why Dave had been laughing.

There is a little synchronicity here, too. A few years ago, I was teaching private yoga lessons to a very well off woman. She was religious, also kind of prim and proper, and always had her housekeeper or cook around when I was there. One day I was waiting for her to get ready and looked at the books on a shelf. There weren’t many, maybe a dozen. Just as she walked in the room, I spotted N.F.D., and blurted, “Hey, I wrote that book.”
She picked it off the shelf, looked at the cover, and asked: “What’s that title mean?”

”Umm, ah…No Fair Deal.  That worked. In fact, that was the name the publisher put in small type right below N.F.D.

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Moore & Franken Meet the Trickster

 

One thing about the trickster god or archetype. The mythical creature shows no political preferences. Take the case of the Alabama candidate for Senate in the upcoming election next Tuesday. The guy should be toast. Nine women (or more since this was written) have come forward with accusations that he pursued them as teens when he was in his thirties. One of them was only 14. Another, who was 17, remembered being called out of her trigonometry class to take a call from Moore, who asked her out on a date. At the time, Moore was an assistant district attorney. Beyond that he was supposedly banned from a mall because of his propensity to go after young girls. There’s another accusation that he was told to stay away from a YMCA for the same reason.

The man, by now, should’ve gotten out of the race, you would think. These are not good attributes for a senator. But Moore resides in Alabama, possibly the most Republican state in the country. Twice Moore was removed from his position as chief justice for refusing to follow federal court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from the court house in the state capital. He was removed because he put his religious beliefs above the constitution. That didn’t bother Alabama voters. They live in the Bible Belt and don’t like being told what to do by Washington lawyers. Moore, who has an array of radical right wing ideas, went on to beat Luther Strange, who is acting senator —filling in for Jeff Session—until the election.

For Democrats, it seemed like a win-win situation, and maybe it still is. If Judge Moore wins, the Senate Republicans will have a probable pedophile in their midst. It’s highly doubtful that all those women were making up their stories. If Moore falls to the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, then the Republicans lose a seat in the Senate and will hold a frail one-vote majority. That would come into play just as Trump and the Republicans in Congress are trying to push through a partisan tax bill that, by most estimates, will offer little or nothing to the middle class while enriching the wealthy and corporations, who are already holding billions of dollars out of the economy.

But back to the trickster. Along came the allegations about Senate Democrat Al Franken, which even included a photo of him appearing to grope the breasts of a sleeping woman. Looks bad. Who wants a jerk like that in Congress, the trickster seems to ask.

However, at the time, in 2006, Franken was still a comedian and the photo was clearly a prank. The woman, Leeann Tweeden, was wearing a military flak jacket that blocks both bullets and Al Franken’s hands. Tweeden was not working for Franken so it wasn’t a boss harassing a subordinate. She and Franken were on a military entertainment tour in the Mideast and doing skits together. Tweeden took offense at Franken’s behavior and joined the chorus of complainants who are bringing to light the issue of sexual harassment, especially in the workplace.

Other charges of butt grabbing, while a senator, followed against Franken and the Democrats had to deal with sexual harassment involving one of their own. So much for their superior moral position, the trickster shouted.

However, clearly there is a significant difference between the Moore case and Franken’s issues. It’s a prankster with stupid but (so far) fairly innocuous behavior vs a man dealing with pedophile issues in his background.

And another thing: Franken has admitted his guilt and apologized profusely multiple times. Moore just says it never happened and all the women are lying. That, of course, is what Trump said when more than a dozen women complained about him groping them over the years against their wills. “They’re all lying,” he has said repeatedly, usually adding: “Besides, I was elected president.” As if that negates his actions.

How will it all end for Moore, for Franken, for Trump? It’s hard to say at this point. But one thing that is certain: the trickster will win the day, and hopefully politicians and others in powerful positions will learn the foibles of their barbarous and lecherous deeds.

At this writing, Dec. 6, it looks as Roy Moore will be elected next Tuesday and become a Republican senator. Meanwhile, it appears Al Franken will resign this Thursday. That follows the resignation of John Conyers, who resigned yesterday related to sexual harassment.

 

 

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Pledge

So before I leave for the grocery store today, Rob says, “Hey, can you get some Pledge?”

No problem. I jot it down on my list. It’s the same thing I did the other day when I went to our local Publix – and came home without the Pledge. Items like Pledge aren’t on my usual route through Publix, which was altered considerably when they rearranged the store. During the tourist and equestrian season here, the idea is to get the shopping done as quickly as possible.

I was at the deli counter, checking out possible sides dishes for Thanksgiving, and heard someone behind me say, “Excuse me, where can I find the Pledge?”

I glanced around and saw an elderly man talking to a Publix employee. “C’mon,” the employee said. “I’ll show you where it is.”

I watched them, noted which aisle they turned into, and then laughed. Pledge. What are the odds that out of the thousands of items Publix carries, I would overhear someone asking for the very thing I needed and probably would have forgotten to pick up?

Okay, other than the odds on this one, is there a deeper meaning I’m overlooking? The word can be used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it means “a solemn promise” or in legal terms, it refers to something given as security “for the fulfillment of a contract or the payment of a debt and is liable to forfeiture in the event of failure.”

As a verb, it means to commit to a person or organization or an idea by a solemn promise or it’s what you do when you give something as security on a loan.

What this may be referring to is an insurance matter. After Hurricane Irma, we discovered we had some leaks in our roof – multiple leaks in 4 rooms.  The insurance company’s adjuster came out, did a detailed report, and the insurance company eventually issued a check. Unfortunately, the amount of the check would pay for patchwork to the roof. In Florida, by law, if 25 percent of your roof is damage, the insurance company has to pay for a new roof – minus whatever your deductible is.

Through a friend, we got the names of two public adjusters. These adjusters do NOT work for insurance companies. They work for you and take a 10 percent fee off whatever new money the insurance company issues for damages. My hope is that one of them will “pledge” to go to bat for us.

These adjusters are so busy now because so many homes sustained hurricane damage, that it won’t be until after Thanksgiving that either of them can come to the house and assess our roof damage. Stay tuned…

P.S. One of them has pledge to go to bat for us. He said the insurance company’s estimate was “a joke.” So, we’ll see!

 

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The Trickster in Politics

 

Several weeks ago, Rob and I sent our agent a new nonfiction proposal: One Nation Under Trump Meets Joseph Campbell’s Trickster Archetype. The idea, the hook, is that trump is the ultimate trickster who is surrounded by tricksters, and one way or another, the trickster will be what brings him and his entire administration down.

But along the way, trump is in good company with the tricksters who have been exposed because of the #Metoo hash tag. Every day on this front, there’s a new revelation, a new name, a new woman reporting what happened to her.

Anyway, we started writing the book and several chapters in, found that we couldn’t keep up with the news. We realized that by the time the book was published, it would be old news, but still interesting in terms of how the trickster archetype has functioned in the U.S. since trump was elected. After all, if you have a trickster in the White House, it sets the tone for the country confronting this archetype within their collective selves.

So: on December 1, Michael Flynn, trump’s loyal – and former – National Security Advisor, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a federal charge but relatively minor compared to what Mueller’s team could have charged him with. A plea deal. In other words, I have lots more info, Mr. Mueller, if you give me a deal.

 Flynn, if you recall, is the man who, at trump’s campaign rallies, often led the chant, Lock her up! This reference to Clinton became a rallying cry for trump supporters at his campaign rallies.

The trickster, who listens closely, apparently heard this. Today, when Flynn left a federal courthouse where he’d pleaded guilt to lying to the FBI, protesters greeted him with, Lock him up! Rob and I predicted this in our section on Flynn.

 

 Oddly, in this entire nightmare that is the trump presidency, my hope is with the trickster. As Carl Jung said, when an archetype seizes you, it has to play out until you recognize it for what it is and integrate it into who you are.I’m not so sure that we’re at the integration phase yet as a country, but things may come to a head very soon.

On December 3 at 10:47 am ET, 7:47 PT, there’s a super moon in Gemini, trump’s sun sign, and Mercury turns retro in Sagittarius. Full moons bring stuff to an apex, a culmination, and Mercury retros are, in part, about the past. Something is headed trump’s way and he’s going to be fighting it with tweets, which were curiously absent today.

Rob’s take? “He’s going to fire Mueller.” In other words, another Saturday Night Massacre, and back to the Nixon era right before he was impeached.

We can hope, right?

 

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Mercury Retro Alert!

Maybe I’m more aware of Mercury retrogrades because the trickster planet rules my sign, Gemini, and that of Virgo, the sign  of my daughter and some goods friends. It does this little retro routine three times a year, and typically, the areas that Mercury rules go haywire during the three weeks it’s misbehaving.

Which areas? Communication. Contracts. Travel. Your conscious mind, your capacity to learn, relationships with siblings, neighbors, friends. My rule of thumb for these three-week periods is simple: revise, review, reconsider. That means it’s a bad idea to submit manuscripts or book your next trip or sign a contract during a Merc retro. Don’t buy a car or electronics, either.

Christmas shopping? Well, the retro starts in Sagittarius at 11:34 pm Pacific time on December 2 and at 2:34 am ET on December 3. It ends on December 22. I hope you did your shopping before the 3rd, but if not, head out on the 23rd. That date is still cutting it pretty close because Mercury takes a few days to stabilize after a retro.   Then again, you have to live your life regardless of what the stars are doing!

On December 3, Mercury turns retro in fire sign Sagittarius. So if you don’t have a copy of your natal chart – get one here and  look at where Sagittarius is in your chart. It’s represented by an arrow. Café Astrology is a treasure trove of info and here’s their explanation about what the houses mean.

That house is where the retro will impact you personally. But on a broader scale, it impacts all of us regardless of where it falls in our natal charts because it’s the planet of communication, something we do daily in this 24/7 connected world. Cell phones act up, computers often crash, our internet goes down, we have a power blackout. Irritating stuff that tends to slow us down. And maybe that’s really the point. During a Merc retro, you shouldn’t rush or push against anything. Just chill, try to go with the flow. Double check appointments you have scheduled.

Not everything about Merc retro periods is challenging. Sometimes, old lovers and friends show up. Relationships with friends and siblings can be mended because the past is rehashed in a way everyone understands. If your flight is delayed, cancelled, or overbooked, you may end up with a flight voucher worth many times the cost of your original ticket. Some of what happens depends on your intentions, desires, goals.

My astro mentor, Renie Wiley, used to say that the place you traveled to during a Mercury retro was a place to which you would return within a year. I’ve seen this proven out time and again in terms of physical travel. But it may also be true in terms of emotional travel. If you and your partner have issues you’re working on, those issues may become more in your face during a Merc retro. If you receive a health diagnosis during a Merc retro, get a second and third opinion. The same thing goes for insurance claims.

You’ve probably already had some hints about events during this Merc retro. I found that some emails were never received, that I had questions about a contract, that appliances needed repairing – our fridge, the pool vacuum cleaner, our AC.

And, full disclosure here, I still haven’t finished my holiday shopping and will probably end up in that long return line on December 26!

 

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An Ancient Manuscript Continues to Baffle


In Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, there’s an ancient text, bound in vellum, that’s catalogued under the call number MS 408. It’s unique in that no one can translate it because the hand-written script is either a code or an unknown language.

It’s known as the Voynich Manuscript, named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912. The manuscript was carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404-1438) and originated in Central Europe, possibly northern Italy. Besides the unusual script, it features drawings of flora, astrological charts and naked women lounging in pools of green water. From the images alone, we might assume, or at least suspect, that the manuscript is a secret text for women’s health involving herbal remedies. But why secret? Maybe it’s about herbal concoctions for preventing or aborting pregnancy, issues that remain hot-button topics today, at least for some people.

I read about this manuscript years ago and remember that cryptographers had studied it for decades, but it remained an unsolved mystery. I was reminded of the manuscript recently when I noticed a You Tube video by Terrence McKenna about it. McKenna, who died in 2000, thought that the 270-page manuscript was written by the Elizabethan mystic John Dee. Dee, who was the queen’s astrology, was known to have written at least one other coded script and he lived in the decades when the manuscript was created. However, he didn’t live in Central Europe where the manuscript supposedly originated.

After taking a brief look at McKenna’s commentary, I did an internet search for the Voynich Manuscript and was surprised to find that there was new and recently published research about it. In fact, The Atlantic had published an article in September 2017–a couple of months ago—and supposedly a scholar had finally solved the enigmatic script.

The Atlantic’s article describes the manuscript as being “…full of astrological charts, strange plants, naked ladies bathing in green liquid, and, most famously, an indecipherable script that has eluded cryptographers to this day.

It was based on another article that came out the same week, published in the prestigious Times Literary Supplement as its cover story – a “solution” for the Voynich manuscript.

Voynich manuscript: the solution

The article by Nicholas Gibbs suggests the manuscript is a medieval women’s-health manual copied from several older sources. And the cipher is no cipher at all, but simply abbreviations that, once decoded, turn out to be medicinal recipes. But is this really a solution or is it deciphering by way of the illustrations, as I mentioned?

Apparently, Gibbs was able to translate a couple of lines near the beginning. But medieval scholars, cryptographers and amateur sleuths, interestingly, were not impressed. They’ve seen it before with earlier failed attempts to solve the mystery.

“The summary in the TLS is really too short to provide any serious analysis,” René Zandbergen wrote in an email to The Atlantic. Zandbergen  is a long-time researcher of the manuscript and runs a web site, Voynich.nu. Scholars say that not much is new in the  TLS article and what is new appears to be incorrect.

When Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America, was a doctoral student at Yale—where the Voynich Manuscript is housed—she read dozens of theories as part of her job. “If they (the Times Literary Supplement) had simply sent to it to the Beinecke Library, they would have rebutted it in a heartbeat,” she told The Atlantic. 

As with all good mysteries, the Voynich Manuscript remains an enigma after 500 years, and so we still don’t know what exactly those naked women were doing in the green waters.

 

 

 

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Becoming Supernatural

I was first introduced to Joe Dispenza with his book You Are the Placebo, where he, a former chiropractor, talks about the triathlon accident that broke his spine. He was just 23 years old. Rather than opting for surgery, which was strongly recommended by his doctors – you’ll be paralyzed without the surgery, you must have this surgery, you’re crazy not to have the surgery- Dispenza spent 10 weeks on a friend’s couch, meditating his way back to health.

This kind of claim is similar to that of Louise Hay. In her book, You Can Heal Your Life, she recounts her diagnosis of vaginal cancer, and because she didn’t have insurance at the time, she set out to heal herself. With the royalties she earned from the sale of millions of books, Hay went on to establish Hay House in 1984, when she was 58 years old. The publishing house is now the largest publisher of alternative thought books on the planet. Not surprisingly, Hay House publishes Dispenza’s books, and his newest, Becoming Supernatural, is a gem.

Up front, right away, before I get into the good stuff, I’m annoyed that he continually calls himself Dr. Joe Dispenza. He’s not a doctor, not a physician. But as a chiropractor, he knew the spine, could see it in his head, and healed himself of an injury that would leave most of us paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Since that experience, Dispenza has done his homework, his studies, conducts group workshops and seminars, retreats, and has used science to back up his findings.

Becoming Supernatural has stories of healings, of tragedies pivoting into successes that are astounding. He provides a variety of techniques and meditations and one of them is mind movies, an interactive vision board. It involves meditation and visual depictions of the future you desire. I recently recommended it to a friend diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m using it, Megan’s using it.

My former problem with vision boards and affirmations was that it was two-dimensional. Without emotion and that popping out feeling, these images were just a wish board. Mind movies changes all that.

Started by Australians Natalie and Glenn Ledwell, mind movies is a digital vision board that you create from your own photos, affirmations, and your own choice of music. You can use the websites library of images or stuff from their music library, but the more personal the image is, the more powerful it becomes. The idea here is that mid movies, along with the meditations Dispenza provides, are a way to rewire the neurology of the brain. As Dispenza says, the purpose of a mind movie is to remind us that we can “accomplish our dreams, create the uncommon, and become supernatural.”

The four goals of this personalized movie are to:

Get clear on the intention you want to create in your future

Program your conscious mind, as well as your unconscious mind, into that new future

Change the brain and body to biologically look like the future has already happened

Repeatedly associate the pictures, images, and music to create “new neural networks in the brain and to emotionally recondition the body to a new mind.” It’s a way for us to remember the future.

In his workshops and retreats, Dispenza uses the mind movies and various types of meditations to help participants create the futures they desire.

For anyone familiar with the law of attraction, Becoming Supernatural is something you won’t want to miss!

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Pluto in Capricorn

Mundane astrologers take charts like this one, of the birth of the U.S., and make predictions about it. They use various techniques – transits, the daily motion of the planets; progressions, where the natal sun is brought forward in time; and solar returns, where the sun is returned to where it was at birth. I’m not a mundane astrologer. However, if this chart belonged to one of my clients – who would have to be really old! – I would be alarmed.

Here’s why. First, over there on the right side of the inner chart, see all those planets and points in Cancer? (69)

Cancer is a nurturing sign, mother earth, her arms are thrown open and she’s welcoming all who come here.

All? What’s that mean?

Well, look at the sign on her ascendant – – the arrow to the left of that horizontal line that cuts through the middle of the circle. That arrow represents the sign of Sagittarius – foreign people, cultures, philosophies, worldviews. In other words, those planets in the sign of Cancer welcome immigrants.

When Pluto entered Capricorn in late November 2008, I shuddered. Pluto –  that odd trident with a circle in the middle of it in the 2nd house)   a powerhouse that exposes the dark underbelly of what’s hidden, the power structure, the underworld, death and sex and taxes – sounds like Woody Allen, right? And Capricorn is about ambition, power. We had a financial meltdown and housing crisis and the way the government solved it was by bailing out the banks – not the people.

In the outer circle, you can see transiting Pluto at 17 degrees Capricorn in the 2nd house, and the natal Pluto in the inner circle at 27 degrees Capricorn in the same house. The U.S. chart is going to experience its first Pluto return, which happens every 244 years.

For the U.S. natal chart, that means that between the years of 2020 and 2022, things in this fragile experiment called democracy are going to be really dicey. This Pluto return  isn’t necessarily an aspect of war,  but it certainly challenges the existing authority of government, how it’s structured, what it hides, its power machine, its power figures, and what it means to be a democracy.

The conjunction is exact in early February 2022, two years into the next presidency of whoever succeeds trump. But because Pluto moves so slowly, we’re already experiencing some of the effects. The dark underbelly of power is being exposed in sex scandals, in a president who is incapable of telling the truth,  tweets his policies in the dark of night, and attacks everyone who criticizes him. We see how  the internet and social media are empowering the people. As one MSNBC commentator said recently, “Thanks to social media, we the people don’t have to wait for congress to act. The #metoo hashtag powered a movement.”

It’s as if the people, the masses, are now challenging the authority and claiming the daily headlines. It’s tougher to pull off shadowy moves when you’re monitored 24/7. Take the tax bill the house just approved- and yes, taxes fall under Pluto’s jurisdiction – supposedly for the middle class. Despite the spin about how wonderful this is for the middle class, people who make between $10,000-75,000 are the ones who are hit. They lose most of their deductions to the one percent, to the corporations, the uber wealthy. Trump himself will save millions.

That said, the voices of the people may be silenced when the FCC votes in mid-December on overturning net neutrality. There’s nothing good in this repeal for the people. As NBC news put it:

“Try this scenario on for size: You wake up, reach for your phone, and head to your favorite news site to check the headlines. But instead of the latest news, you see a message from your cell phone carrier: “This site is not available. Please upgrade to our deluxe package to access it.”

“Since you’re broke and can’t upgrade your plan, you head to social media to find out what’s going on in the world. On this platform, however, your feed takes forever to load because your carrier doesn’t have a special “Fast Lane” deal with your preferred app. Growing frustrated, you try to search for alternatives to your phone company online, only to be met with a “This site has been blocked,” pop-up in your browser.”

This move is right in line with the approaching Pluto return in the U.S. natal chart. An attempt by the powers that be to silence all those irritating dissenters.

So even though I see these next years in either/or, black/white contrasts, there’s some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I think we’ll emerge from this as a stronger country, with a clearer sense of who we are as a collective and as individuals within that collective. In March 2023, Pluto enters Aquarius, the sign of the rebel, visionary, of the collective called humanity, the one who thinks so far outside the box that I believe this is probably the true beginning of the age of Aquarius.

Thousand years of peace, promises a spiritual text.

Well, we’ll see. I’ll be well into my 70s by  then. Our daughter will be 34. The future will lie in the hands of her generation, the millennials, whose first voting experience brought Obama into the white house.

 

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Thanksgiving

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our U.S. friends and happy Thursday to everyone else.

Thanksgiving is one of those cool holidays when families get together to celebrate everything for which they’re grateful. It means a central meal supposedly similar to what the pilgrims ate – turkeys, potatoes, beans…. For us, it means that our daughter comes home with her dog and cat – Nika and Piper – and any dog she’s watching for the holidays comes with her and we enjoy a four-day weekend together.  That’s the case this Thanksgiving.

We have 4 dogs and 3 cats in the house and, tomorrow, the couple who are coming over to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, are bringing their 2 dogs. So, dogs rule. Here they are:

Nika and Noah,  chilling with us

the visiting dog, Mischief

Nigel talking to Megan

May we all count our blessings for the beauty in our lives!

 

 

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Sex and the Trickster

Since mid-October, when the Harvey Weinstein story broke and the hash tag #metoo was started, the sexual allegations against powerful men has proliferated beyond anything anyone imagined. Here’s an incomplete list from the NY Times:

 Weinstein

Spacey

Russell Simmons

Glenn Thrush

Charlie Rose

Al Franken

Steve Jurvetson

Eddie Berganza

Andrew Kreisberg

Louis C.K.

Roy Moore

Benjamin Genocchio

Jeffrey Tambor

Ed Westwick

David Guillod

John Conyers

An incomplete list, as I said. If you don’t know who they are, Google them. But where is trump?

The Access Hollywood tape made it clear he belongs in this group. So, what we have socially is a big problem with how men view women as objects they can touch or grope or whatever just because they can. What we have is a serial abuser in the white house, a pedophile running for the Alabama senate seat (Roy Moore) and a spectrum of prominent men in the news, entertainment, and political businesses. And yet, trump doesn’t denounce his republican perverts, his republican pedophiles.

The repugs, after all, need votes in congress to pass a massive tax bill that will increase taxes on those people making between $10,000 and $75,000, and give tax breaks to everyone above that 75K marker. In other words, the poor and the middle class are getting screwed.

They place policy above pedophilia. How’s that for a party mantra?

There are moments in this unfolding horror that are almost comical – like when Kellyanne Conway appears on Fox and tries to explain why the white house hasn’t distanced itself from pedophile Roy Moore – we need the votes for tax reform. Then there are the more sobering moments, like the second allegation against Al Franken, one of my favorite senators. But hey, I’m sorry, he squeezed my butt isn’t quite the same thing as I was 14 years old when Ray Moore… fill in the blanks.

But mostly, all of this says we’re a country in the throes of a moral dilemma. Our president, after all, has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment…and then there’s that Hollywood Access tape where he admits to being a serial sexual predator.

So here we are, more than a year into trump’s election to the presidency, and what we’ve learned is that the guy who claims to be the art of the deal hasn’t solidified a single deal. His tweets in the dead of night have upped the ante for war with North Korea, have alienated most of our allies, and have made it clear that he still can’t believe that he didn’t win the popular vote.

We no longer live in a multiple choice world. We don’t have the luxury. Climate change deniers, tax breaks for the uber wealthy, pedophiles running for the senate: who the hell are we these days? As a nation, a people, a collective consciousness?

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A Really, Really Old Guy

When a Chinese herbalist named Li Ching-Yuen died in 1933, his obituary appeared in newspapers around the world. He claimed that he was 197 years old. But was he really that old? In 1930, when Li said he was 194, Professor Wu Chung-chief, dean of the department of Education in Minkuo University, decided to investigate Li’s claim. What he discovered was shocking.

Li was not born in 1736. He was actually born—according to government records—in 1677, making him 256 years old at the time of his death. He also found out that the Imperial Chinese Government had congratulated him on his 150th and 200th birthday.

We might wonder how Li could’ve forgotten his birthday, but I guess if you’re over 200 years old a lapse of memory is probably more likely than not.

Li attributed his longevity to peace of mind and that it was his belief that everyone could live at least a century by attaining inward calm. “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, sleep like a dog.”

A correspondent of The New York Times wrote in 1928 that many of the oldest men in Li’s neighborhood asserted their grandfathers knew him as boys and that he was then a grown man.

According to the generally accepted tales told in his province. Li was able to read and write as a child, and by his tenth birthday had traveled in Kansu, Shansi, Tibet, Annam, Siam and Manchuria gathering herbs. For the first hundred years he continued at this occupation. Then he switched to selling herbs gathered by others.

According to one version of Li’s married life, he outlived 23 wives and was living with his 24th a woman ‘of 60’ at the time of his death. Another account, which in 1928 credited him with 180 living descendants, comprising eleven generations, recorded only fourteen marriages. This second authority said his eyesight was good; also, that the finger nails of his right hand were very long, “and long for a Chinese might mean longer than any finger nails ever dreamed of in the United States.”

So how well did Li age? The Times correspondent wrote that “many who have seen him recently declare that his facial appearance is no different from that of persons two centuries his junior.”

 

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Your Inner Trickster

Trickster as an archetype can be animal or human, male or female, and is found throughout the mythology and folklore of all cultures. From the Native American coyote to the court jester and clown, from Kokopelli, Loki, Tezcatlipoca, Saci, Edshu to and others, the trickster across cultures share similar characteristics. He’s playful but sometimes mean, sympathetic, outrageous and humorous because he does things outside of the boundaries of what society considers accepted behavior.

“Tricksters relish the disruption of the status quo, turning the ordinary world into chaos with their quick turns of phrase and physical antics,” wrote Joseph Campbell. “Although they may not change during the course of their journeys, their world and its inhabitants are transformed by their antics. The Trickster uses laughter to make characters see the absurdity of the situation, and perhaps force a change.”

An inner trickster essentially does the same thing. And we’ve all got one.

It lurks in the shadows of our lives, urging us to try the outrageous, to do the totally insane thing that terrifies us, to embrace anything and everything outside our comfort zones. This inner trickster is the irritating voice that speaks to us as we wake up, as we fall asleep, as we dream and enter the timeless archetypal realm where we are confronted with our genuine selves – even if we don’t recognize that self as genuine.

In recent memory, my inner trickster had a field day on a trip to Costa Rica. Rob, Megan and I had decided to go zip lining and drove to a spot recommended by the manager of the place where we were staying. As soon as I saw the arrangement of lines, the harness I would wear, and how the pulleys would connect to my harness, I had second thoughts. I would be 30 feet or more above the ground, facing the ground, and zipping along at a swift clip. It seemed like an invitation to vertigo, nausea, and crippling fear. So I decided not to do it.

Rob and Megan went ahead and I spent three hours talking to a pregnant woman from Spain. It was a great conversation and I got to practice my Spanish, but… I went out to the “landing” area where Megan and Rob eventually coasted in and they looked so excited and thrilled to have zip lined that I regretted my decision. My inner trickster kept laughing that I had backed out. Who in their right mind would pass up an opportunity for a zip lining adventure in Costa Rica? When did you become such a chickenshit? What could possibly go wrong?

 Well, a lot of things. Like, the lines could break and I would plummet to my death. Stuff like that.

My inner trickster got a big kick out of that. Yeah, sure, it might happen. You might also get bitten by a rabid monkey when you traipse around in the forests here.

 Okay, okay. The trickster had made her point. Two days later, we returned to the zip lining place. This time, I put on a harness and a helmet, made sure I didn’t have to face the ground,  and off I went, flying above landscape so stunningly beautiful and dramatic that parts of the experience were almost dreamlike. And at the end, my inner trickster applauded. That’s me in the photo above. Proof!

Sometimes, this inner trickster assumes the role of a muse, nudging me to try writing something different than what I’ve done before. When I shake my head and hurl up resistance – essentially arguing for my limitations (fear) – I get laughed out of my office. The trickster/muse keeps bugging me, tossing synchronicities in my path until I can’t ignore the signs anymore. That’s what happened with Skin Shifters.

 After our trip to Cuba in February, I sat down one morning and wrote a brief synopsis of the book: The discovery of an alien body on the island of Tango Key, Florida ultimately reveals that a planetary invasion is underway. The aliens have a unique weapon: they’re morphing people into beings like themselves and assuming their physical forms.

 The final scenes in Skin Shifters take place on this tobacco farm in Viñales, Cuba.

 

The manuscript has been submitted to several publishers. Here’s the prologue.

PROLOGUE SKIN SHIFTERS

So, I’ve grown to like my inner trickster. She encourages me to take risks, to explore new creative areas, to confront my fears- and banish them.

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Stephen King

At some point in the 1970s, I was teaching English at a private school in Vero Beach. The pay was terrible, but I lived within a block of the beach and I liked most of the kids I taught.

One day, a student in my eighth grade English class, Brian, cornered me during lunch and handed me a book. “Ms. Trish, you gotta read this. It’s the best book I’ve ever read and since you’re a writer, too, I think you’re going to love this.”

At that point in my life, my writing consisted mostly of depressing poetry. The book was The Shining by Stephen King. I read it over a weekend and on the following Monday, brought it to school and returned it to Brian. “Fantastic. This afternoon, I’m heading over to Vero Beach Bookstore to buy whatever else this guy has written.”

Carrie and Salem’s ‘Lot,” Brian said.

And that’s how my love of Stephen King books began. With an eighth grader. In the years since, as King has continued to write and write and write, I’ve bought and read, bought and read. And bought and read and written my own books. People who dislike King’s “horror,” love his other books, like The Green Mile, Firestarter, The Running Man… Thing is, King was never a genre writer, never just a horror writer. He’s a storyteller.

 In Your Creative Stars, an astrology book I wrote on creativity, I used King’s chart for Virgo. His gift for detail, for engaging all our senses, our emotions: that’s Virgo. His moon in Sagittarius in the fifth house of creativity is why we are treated to other worlds – his Dark Towers series, for instance. That moon is also why he always gives us the larger emotional picture of his characters. The moon rules our emotions, Sagittarius rules the big picture, foreign travel – and publishing. His Cancer rising, with Mars closely conjunct, suggests a nurturing quality as a human being. Both of his sons- Joe Hill and Owen King – are writers.

At some point in the 1990s, Megan and I drove to one of the Miami Book fairs. We got lost, had trouble finding parking, but when we finally got out of the car – there was Stephen King, about 300 yards away, talking to someone. He’d just gotten out of a car – limo? – still parked at the curb.

“Oh my God, Mom,” Megan burst out. “It’s him. Go over there, tell him how much you love his books.”

Yeah, sure, Megan. This is the guy who wrote Misery, about an overzealous fan. We just stood there, staring, and later went to his talk. Megan is now an avid consumer of anything King and is writing her own novel. That’s the thing with King. For anyone with aspirations or talent for writing, start with King. He’s how I learned to write. He taught me about back stories, the inner worlds of characters, and that it’s okay to tackle the weird and the strange if your characters are emotionally real.

When The Dark Tower movie came out and got such awful reviews, Megan and I saw it and loved it. We left the theater marveling at the whole thing. We figured the negatives had come from avid fans of the books who wanted, well, the depth that writing provides.

I follow him on Twitter and get a kick out of his comments about trump. When trump blocked him, I was nearly hysterical with glee. When JK Rowling told King not to worry, that trump hadn’t blocked her yet and she had King’s back, I texted Megan, who had already seen it.

Recently, our friend Dwane Elmore was flying back from Oklahoma and had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was sitting at the bar and realized that the man standing next to him, talking to the bartender about terrible trump, was none other than Stephen King.

Dwane sat there quietly, sipping his martini, listening. After King left, Dwane asked the waitress if she knew who that man was. “Some Hollywood celebrity,” the bartender replied.

Uh, lady, that was Stephen King.

Cultural and literary icon.

I’m so envious of Dwane. I would love to spend hours talking to King, but would settle for a minute or two or politics, books, writing.

Thank you, again, Stephen King, for hours and hours of pleasurable reading!

 

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The Joel Osteen Trickster

When Michael Klimkowski heard that Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen was going to preach at the Los Angeles Forum October 28, he knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Klimkowski is a comedian and part of the Dan Dabs Sketch Group. He also happens to look a lot like Osteen and he longed for a chance to emulate the folksy charmer with the ageless plasticine features and $50 million bankroll.

Klimkowski and his film crew arrived  for “Night of Hope” without tickets, but the security people at the gate waved them through when they were greeted by the fake Osteen, who asked if he had to pay to park at his own event.

Once out of the vehicle, fake Osteen made his way toward the huge arena waving and calling out, “God bless you,” over and over. He stopped several times to pose for selfies with fan as his own crew filmed it all. Being a comedian, Klimkowski couldn’t help throwing in a zinger here and there. He asked where he could get a beer and said he didn’t want a soda. Then the fake multi-millionaire asked where he could buy a Loteria ticket.
Once inside, he made his way down toward the stage as more fans approached. He even accommodated one woman by holding her camera. “I’ve long arms. I’m six-three. Jesus was five-five.”

If anyone was concerned that Osteen’s megachurch had not initially opened its doors to Hurricane Harvey flood victims in Houston, no one mentioned it to the fake Osteen, even though the hurricane had hit just weeks earlier.

As he neared the stage, more fans left their seats and approached him. His crew urged him to take the stage, but Klimkowski didn’t think that was a good idea.That was when Osteen’s security chief moved in and ejected Klimkowski, who kept asking, “What did I do? Can you tell me what I did?” The security chief is heard turning vulgar as he tells Klimkowski he’s going to be arrested.

Even as he was being detained in the parking lot and the police arrived, more fans approached still thinking that they were seeing Osteen up close. The police thought it was funny and no arrests were made.

You can find the original video here, and an edited version here from a Houston TV station, which includes an interview with Klimkowski.

Klimkowski had hoped he would hear from Osteen after the You Tube video appeared and that the pastor would tell him that he thought it was hilarious. Maybe he would even invite the fake Osteen on stage with him at the beginning of one of his sermons for a few light-hearted minutes. Apparently, that was a fantasy that was not going to come true. It seems that the feel-good prosperity gospel Osteen preaches doesn’t have room for a second trickster on stage.

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The Trickster and Kevin Spacey

We’ve been working on a book called American Tricksters: From Madoff to Trump, the Rise of the Archetypal Con Artist in the 21st Century. The challenge here is that the story changes daily, sometimes hourly.

Let’s take actor Kevin Spacey, whose acting role the past six years has been as President Underwood in Netflix’s original series House of Cards. We’ve watched the series and I’ve fluctuated between not caring because Spacey reminds me so much of Trump, and being fascinated by how corrupt Underwood is as a politician, a husband, and by the behind the scenes deals that are made.

The Spacey sexual allegation story broke shortly after the Weinstein fiasco, when  actor Anthony Rapp (Star Trek: Discovery) accused Spacey of trying to have sex with him when he attended a party at Spacey’s New York apartment in 1986. At the time, Rapp was 14. Spacey was 26.

The story initially broke on BuzzFeed and several hours after it broke, Spacey tweeted: I’m beyond horrified to hear his story… This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I now choose to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.”

 He was scorched in the media and by fellow actors for not apologizing to Raff and using the accusation as an opportunity to comes out as gay.

Raff’s accusation quickly was followed by others. Eight current and former employees of House of Cards told CNN that Spacey “had engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, making the show’s set a ‘toxic’ work environment. Then a former production assistant accused Spacey of sexually assaulting him.

As the LA Times noted, “When House of Cards debuted in 2013, it catapulted Netflix into a whole new level of Hollywood recognition and acclaim. The dark political series about an unscrupulous Washington power couple became Netflix’s first breakout hit, planting a flag for the streaming service in the competitive world of original TV programming.”

The series is estimated to cost several million dollars per episode, according to the Times, with each season made up of 13 episodes. Spacey is listed as one of the executive producers.

Now here’s where the trickster initially comes in. Last season, Underwood fell from power in the series and the last scene was of Underwood alone in a hotel room. Now, the series itself has collapsed – just as the title suggests. After all, when we talk about the phrase “house of cards” we usually think that it’s not too sturdy and a breeze may blow it over.

Within 48 hours of Spacey’s tweet after Rapp had accused him, Netflix and Media Rights Capital, the company that produces House of Cards, announced that the sixth season of the series would be the last, suspended production on it indefinitely, and canceled season 7. Netflix also announced it won’t release the movie Gore, starring Spacey, which is now in post production. Then the trickster went even farther: the agency that represented Spacey – Creative Artists Agency – and his publicist, Staci Wolfe, have dropped him. Spacey had been slated to receive the International Emmy Award on November 20, 2017 and they’ve announced he won’t receive the award now.

The trickster usually has a legend, fairy tale, folklore, or myth associated with it. The one that fits the trickster in this scenario is that of the pink dolphin of the Amazon, a fresh water dolphin. According to Amazonian tribes, the pink dolphin is actually a shape shifter, deceiver, liar, and seducer. It’s smaller than its ocean brothers, is the color of bubble gum and such a splendid sight against the green curtain of jungle it seems impossible that such a legend about it exists.

On nights of the full moon, the pink dolphin assumes human form as a man, dresses in a white suit with a white straw hat that covers his blowhole, and looks like quite the dapper outsider. He goes into the nearest villages and dances with the most beautiful women. Because he’s sly and cunning, he lures one of them into the jungle, down to the banks of the river. Part of his seduction routine is convincing the woman to visit his secret underground cavern. Here, he impregnates the woman. At dawn, she returns to her village and when she later discovers she’s pregnant, the story is that the dolphin did it!

This shape-shifting element fits Spacey. We TV viewers were engaged by his public persona as an actor and discovered it was the perfect cover for his darker side, con artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Four

I devoured this book. Galloway has a wonderful style. He’s funny, insightful, and he provides the sort of statistics that leave you gasping, stuttering, “OMG, WTF, really?”

You won’t ever look at the big 4 in the same way again – amazon, apple, facebook, google. In fact, the next time you walk into an apple store, type a query into google, post a cute photo of your dog on facebook, or order something from amazon, you’ll remember this book. You may hesitate, you may wrestle with your conscience, but in the end you’ll do what you were going to do , and Galloway explains why.

I would love to take a course from this guy at NYU, where he teaches business. But since I live in Florida, I’m delighted to have found his book.

There are a few negative reviews of this book that don’t make sense to me. It’s easy to write a negative review of anything. But with these reviews, I really feel compelled to grab these people by their collective collars and demand, “Hey, can you write something better? Do you have anything more to say than your negative review?”

The thing about Amazon, which Galloway notes, is that user reviews equalize the playing field. I agree, unless you have reviewers with a personal or professional grudge about whatever it is they’re reviewing. This happened a few years ago to Rob, when he offered a free book to readers in exchange for a review on Amazon for a particular book he’d written. One of the women who reviewed the book had a personal grudge against us and wrote an awful review of the book. Amazon doesn’t have a mathematical algorithm for that.

Galloway is clever, informed, and has a solid grasp on his topics. And honestly, even though I’m an Apple fan, I won’t be rushing to pay more than a thousands bucks for an iPhoneX. What I want to know is what happened to the iPhone9? Was it murdered in some dark alley in the Apple empire? And if so, why? Was it a clever marketing ploy? And these geniuses at the Apple store – are they really geniuses?

And then there’s Google with their mantra of Do No Harm, who has subsumed all of the competition – Yahoo, Microsoft, you name it and it’s gone. Google is the information king who probably knows more about us than our families do. Creepy.

So here we are, folks, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Galloway refers to them. Amazon now owns Whole Foods. Google owns the world. Facebook owns your heart. And Apple owns how you communicate and stay in touch with the larger world.

So, are we screwed?

 

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A Tsunami for Democrats

art by Megan MacGregor

The big wave in Virginia! In the year since Trump was voted into office, a year ago tonight when I had a total meltdown, the Democrats have enjoyed a massive triumph.

Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Repub Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, in Virginia’s gubernatorial election tonight and did so by a comfortable margin – 54 to 45 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Gillespie ran on Trumpism and that tactic failed.

From CNN: “Democrats also made significant down-ballot gains in Virginia. Justin Fairfax won the lieutenant governor’s against Republican Jill Holtzman Vogel, a state senator known for her sponsorship of a 2012 bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo vaginal ultrasounds. Social issues were prominent in another statewide race, where Democratic attorney general Mark Herring defeated Republican challenger John Adams, who has hit Herring for his refusal to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in court. And Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend Alison Parker was the Virginia TV reporter killed on live television in 2015, won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.”

Even more stunning, though, is the win of the first transgender woman, Danica Roem, to a seat in the Virginia state legislature. She defeated Republican Bob Marshall, one of the state’s longest serving lawmakers, the man who sponsored a bill that would have restricted which bathrooms Roem could use.

Perhaps, after nearly a year of Trump tweets, gaffes, insults, scandals, and special investigations, people are waking up and resisting in a way that counts: at the voting booth.

In short, as one tweeter put it: a trans woman beat the guy who introduced the bathroom bill. A gun victims’ boyfriend beat a delegate with an “A” rating from the NRA.  A civil rights lawyer who sued the police department just became the top prosecutor in philadelphia. Somethng’s happening here, folks.

I hate to think we’ll have to wait until the midterm elections in 2018 to see this terrible period in American history mitigated by Democratic wins in the house and maybe in the senate, too. My hope is that Mueller will end this nightmare administration by issuing indictments for people within trump’s inner circle – his son, Donald Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then hey, an indictment for orange man himself.

But in the meantime, the democrats need to get their act together. Now that the repugs have revealed themselves as indentured servants to corporations and the 1 percent, democrats need to redefine who they are as a party. What do they stand for? If they expect to remain relevant, their platform should move toward the progressive vision of Bernie Sanders rather than some amorphous middle ground. The political paradigm must change.

 

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How Puppies Grow!

There’s no synchro here. But there is endless cuteness! The above pic was taken shortly after Nigel joined the family and Noah and Nigel seem to be communicating here.

Noah: Dude, you’re really little.

Nigel: Not for long. Look how big my paws are.

Noah: I’ve been here more than 7 years, so that means I’m top dog.

Nigel: No problem. I just want to live with a family who loves me.

Noah: Then you’ve come to the right place.

Nigel was about 10 and a half weeks here.

Here’s a photo of Nigel during his first hurricane – Irma.

Nigel, thinking to self: Uh, something bad happened here.  We’re all okay, but the yard is a real mess.

Nigel, first trip to vet’s office: Uh, why’s the door shut? Where’s Noah?

Now here he is, loving his first night with cool weather, hauling around a toy panda almost as large as he is. Nearly 15 weeks old now.

And here with Noah.

Nigel: See that big red dog? He’s my mentor.

 

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“Lock her up” backfires …

 


On July 16, 2016, the Trump campaign embraced a new and quite starting campaign theme: “Lock her up!” Never before in the U.S. had a presidential nominee endorsed the idea of putting his opponent in jail. Or at least sloganeering to do so.

Initially, “Lock her up” wasn’t an official talking point of the campaign. But rabble rousers on the right, such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn (both who might soon find themselves locked up) urged Trump followers to shout it out at every chance. Of course, t-shirts and paraphernalia followed. Get your ‘Lock her up’ cap and coffee mug! (Who knew that the money raised by the campaign within a year would be used to pay for the president’s legal defense – Trump’s, not Hillary’s.) The trickster at play, no doubt.

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort seemed fine with that rhetoric getting airtime at the convention when asked about it during a morning news conference that day, saying that it illustrates voters’ frustration that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee hasn’t been held accountable for her actions.

“I think that was a refrain that Gov. Christie was calling for in the speech,” the Washington Examiner wrote, quoting Manafort. “It probably reflects the attitude of a lot of people in America — over 70 percent think she’s guilty and don’t understand why justice wasn’t done,” Manafort continued. “Frankly, that plays right into the narrative of why things need to change in Washington, because there’s special justice for some and it’s not equal justice.”

Yeah, right. Meanwhile, Manafort’s questionable past in his dealings with Putin’s allies who paid him millions and his continued dealing with Russians was totally overlooked by the campaign. After all, he was the campaign chairman.

But now it all comes to roost. Trump is still chanting various versions of ‘lock her up’ in his tweets, but now it’s just a pathetic attempt to distract from the real game – taking down his people, and maybe POTUS himself – by the special prosecutor, who happens to be Republican. Or at least he was when he started this investigation!

Meanwhile, no one has to chant lock him up when it comes to Manafort. Justice is underway in his case. Even though it’s unclear from the infamous slogan whether Manafort, Trump and his allies thought they should bother giving Hillary a trial, Manafort will get his day in court. The trickster is laughing.

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Yo Ching

 

The I Ching has been one of my favorite divination systems for decades. One day in college, I was browsing a bookstore and found the Richard Wilhelm edition of the I Ching, saw that Carl Jung had written the introduction, and bought it. That introduction, written in 1949, was where I learned about synchronicity. I’ve been using the Ching ever since.

The I Ching is a 5,000 year old oracle based on 64 hexagrams that are obtained by the tossing of 3 coins 6 times. Heads equal 3, tails are 2. If you get a 6, the broken line is changing to a solid line. If you get a 9, the solid line is changing to a broken line. When a hexagram has changing lines, it means you will end up with a second hexagram because the situation is in flux.

Over the years, I’ve tried various I Ching apps and have gotten to know other people who use the I Ching. One of them is artist and writer Adele Aldridge, who has undertaken a huge project – illustrating and interpreting every hexagram and every possible combination of changing lines.

Several days ago, I received an email from a man named Hugh Gallagher, who has produced an app and book called Yo Ching, Ancient Knowledge for Streets Today. The interpretation of the hexagrams comes from True Player, an expat from the Bronx who Gallagher met at The Cosmos, a bar in Bangkok that became famous during the Vietnam War as a watering hole for CIA agents. Over a period of time, he and True Player got around to talking about a myriad of subjects, including the I Ching. “I was intrigued,” Gallagher writes. “Player’s profound and casual take on the I Ching – which he called Yo Ching – was totally profane and utterly wise.”

Gallagher was impressed, so for the next two years, he and True Player met at The Cosmos (appropriate name) and True Player would talk and Gallagher transcribed. Gallagher eventually moved back to the U.S. and started putting his notes together. In some ways, his relationship with True Player reminds me of Carlos Castaneda’s relationship with Don Juan – at once mysterious, numinous, creative.

In 2015, the Yo Ching book was published and now there’s also a free app. Rob and I have been experimenting with the app and find it to be quite accurate. Keep in mind that the interpretations are written in “street language,” so they’re laced with profanities, but the wisdom reflects that of the I Ching.

The only thing the app lacks is changing lines. I asked Hugh about it and he said changing lines will be added at a later time. The book, however, gives interpretations for changing lines as well.

Check out Hugh’s site and give the app a try. It’s fun, a different take on an old divination system.

Hugh is quite an accomplished writer, an ex-pat who is now living and working in Thailand. Here’s a piece he wrote for Newsweek.

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