This is the post that I meant to have up Saturday. Tomorrow’s will be today’s. You know what I mean. Sorry.
Early on during my time at Marvel, at a convention in New York City, I met a comics fan who was a part-time astrologer. He had a regular day job, some bookkeeping or accounting-type thing, but on the side, he did horoscopes. He liked what I had to say at some panel I was on, thought I seemed like an interesting subject and volunteered to do my chart. Free. Okay. I gave him my date and time of birth and the city where I was born.
A couple of weeks later, he stopped by the Marvel offices to deliver his work, a hand-drawn astrological chart and his analysis of same.
The chart was beautiful. Framable. I still have it, packed away somewhere in the storage space.
What he came up with was startling. His analysis detailed things about me that nobody knew but people very close to me, and a few things that only I knew. Things that, I assure you, would have been nigh impossible to find out.
Like what? Well, he knew that I almost died shortly after being born. Something to do with blood, he supposed. Yes, because of Rh factor problems, I needed seven complete transfusions in the first three days of my life. One of my parents’ neighbors, one Adam Corcoran, donated the blood that saved my life.
The astrologer knew many other things about my family and childhood that spooked me out.
Did he fly to Pittsburgh and check the records at Mercy Hospital? Did he call and interview my mother and my sister?
Mother and sister said no, he didn’t. I didn’t enquire of the hospital.
I showed the chart and analysis to my girlfriend, JP. (Has anyone noticed that there are an awful lot of “J’s” in my life—right, JayJay Jackson?) JP loved horoscopes and such. So I asked the guy do her chart. Paid him. Not cheap. The first one’s free...then, you’re hooked. : )
The guy did her chart and our chart together.
The analysis of her chart, like mine, was spooky-accurate. He correctly said she was divorced, two kids, a boy and a girl, and he got their ages right. He described her perfectly. He nailed things about her personality and a few personal things that only she could have clued him in on. She didn’t.
I met JP in another city, where she lived, a couple of hundred miles away. We had a long-distance relationship. I kept my personal life private. No one I knew in New York had ever met her. Not one person among my New York friends and acquaintances so much as knew her name, much less knew her personally.
And remember, this was long before the World Wide Web.
The analysis of our chart together was troubling. It said that our relationship wouldn’t last. It said that she would have two affairs “…with men who earned their livings using sticks or weapons.”
We laughed about that.
Because of the distance between us, which meant that we couldn’t see each other as often as we wished, we had agreed that we’d keep things casual. No commitment. No strings. Que será, será.
But, the fact was, we were both into it big time. When we were together it was…you know. When we weren’t, it was difficult.
As my job became more and more consuming, we got together less and less.
I was lonely. Once in a while, I went out with other girls.
She was lonely. She met, and had a brief fling with a professional hockey player for the Buffalo Sabres. No, I won’t give you his name.
Then she met and dated a ranked pro tennis player.
Sticks or weapons….
That second fling developed into a relationship that ended ours.
If she had tried to fulfill the prophecy, I think it would have been difficult.
The chilling accuracy of the astrologer’s work still haunts me.
Telling Tarot Readings
At a party at someone’s house shortly before I was promoted to Editor in Chief, Chris Claremont’s new bride, Bonnie, a New Age type (my characterization, probably not what she would say), did a Tarot card reading for me. I had never heard of Tarot. It was a lark.
The reading proved to be eerily accurate, foretelling of success, but great difficulties and great strife. Okay, that all was a reasonable guess, considering the stressful times.
Many years later, post-VALIANT, a friend, the Fulbright Scholar “hedge witch” mentioned in a previous post, wanted to read my Tarot and I acquiesced. She knew me, and so some of the things she said weren’t shocking, but she didn’t know me that well, so a few things about me that she brought up, things that even her husband who knew me better didn’t know, surprised me.
Yeah, yeah, whatever.
Years later, at a time when I was unemployed and struggling, the hedge witch called me and asked, no, insisted that I have an “ifa divination” done by a Dutch South African man named Jaap Verduijn, who, she said, was remarkable. Ifa divination would take too long to explain here, but if you’re interested, here’s the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ifa_divination
It cost $55. I told Hedgy I really wasn’t interested and didn’t want to waste the money. She volunteered to pay for it. She thought it was that important.
To please her, I agreed to do it, and no, I did not let her pay.
The drill was the same as with the horoscope—date, time and place of birth. September 27, 1951, at the stroke of noon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, if anyone was wondering.
The divination, more of an analysis of one’s life and specific instructions for how to improve it, actually, was interesting overall and amazing in places.
One thing he said, right off the bat, was that I wore too much black. I should put more color into my life. I did wear black a lot. Still do. I got in the habit when I was travelling a lot on business. Black is very forgiving. Get a spot on a white shirt with no time to get back to the hotel and change and you look like a slob all day….
Here are a few passages from the very long document. The underscores are mine:
“This client has the capacity to survive just about anything….” Yes, I guess I’m a survivor. “This Odu speaks of skills with the language.” Hah! Lord knows I try.
Story of my life.
I was just about to move to Nyack, which is on the Hudson. Plenty of forest handy. And, I was about to start a new job with Phobos Entertainment.
Jaap suggested a number of ritual things to do in his “prescription” for me. One involved sacrificing a sheep, but he realized that probably wouldn’t be practical.
So, I didn’t sacrifice a sheep. I also didn’t cook a soup of tete atetedaye leaves or eat dried mudfish, touch eight fresh eggs to my forehead and smash them in the street. I didn’t actually do any of the recommended rituals.
However, the fact was that I was drinking more than I should have around that time. And not eating right. Largely due to lack of money. Too much pizza, rice and beans, hot dogs…cheap stuff. About that, I listened to him.
This passage in the texts he used even he couldn’t figure out:
This was encouraging:
So was this:
This was close to home:
And here’s the conclusion:
What’s it all mean? I don’t know, but I admit I find it fascinating that from halfway around the world this guy had things to say to me that were pertinent. And there were no clinkers.
I’ll keep this one short. I had my tonsils removed when I was 22 years old. On the way to the hospital (on my Yamaha TX750, by the way) I had the near-irresistible urge to turn around, call it off. No reason at all.
I was prepped for surgery. Lying on a gurney amid a horde of five or six year olds, also on gurnies, also there for tonsillectomies, all staring at me, wondering what the giant was doing there, that feeling came back. If I hadn’t been on pre-op tranks that made me woozy, I would have gotten up and left.
In the operating room, the anesthesiologist began administering the sodium pentothal or whatever. He told me to count backwards from 100. I got as far as 99…
…then I felt my heart stop! I stopped breathing!
I had the sensation of falling down a well into blackness. I could hear chaos, shouting, but it seemed father and farther away every second.
Then suddenly I was wide awake. I sat bolt upright. They’d shot me full of epinephrine to counter the anesthetic.
I felt like playing football! Or running a marathon!
The doctor loudly growled at the anesthesiologist, “SHALL WE TAKE IT FROM THE TOP?!”
They did. The tonsils came out. I lived.
A Tarot Reading Scene from a Screenplay I Wrote
The title of the screenplay, written for Plan Z Productions long ago, is The Omega Point. Never produced, though for a while New Line was interested. Then the head of production got canned, and, well, that ended that.
It’s actually a science fiction story. A scientist finds a way to make a fundamental change in the universe which effectively makes him godlike. The change he engineers unintentionally causes one man, John Michael, to become chaos-empowered, leading to apparent psychic phenomena happening to and around him, though at first he doesn’t understand or believe what’s happening.
The cast of characters closely parallels certain Major Arcana of the Waite deck. In this scene, after John has had an inexplicable premonition that enabled him to save his mother’s life, his New Age-type secretary reads his Tarot.
INT. AD AGENCY - CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY
John is working. Ruthie enters carrying a pack of cards.
Ruthie has John shuffle. She’s using the Waite deck.RUTHIECan I throw your Tarot, Mr. Psychic Hero, sir?
JOHNSorry. Not interested. The famous Nannet King herself told me that fortune-tellers are bullshit.RUTHIEI’m not a fortune-teller. With Tarot, you influence the cards and I only tell you what they say. And I can’t wait to see what they say about you!JOHNAll right. What the Hell.
She lays out a Celtic Cross. As she turns up the cards (which have the names on them) we see them clearly.RUTHIEContemplate whatever you want to know about.
John gives Ruthie a suspicious look.RUTHIE(Turning up the Hanged Man)The first card represents you. You’re firmly attached to your beliefs, but they’re being challenged. Love and desire have led you to suffering. You’re at the end of your rope...
RUTHIEThat’s what it means. Really.
(Turning up the Fool)This represents someone trying to help you. The Fool puts himself and his pleasure first, but he can be a brave, if foolhardy ally.
(Turning up Death)This means, well, death, or maybe a big change.
(Turning up the High Priestess)Ah. She represents your roots, your support, or whatever makes you who you are. She’s spiritual power, inner strength and the source of luck.
(Turning up the Hermit)This guy’s a hidden but important factor. A problem-solver, but someone you wouldn’t expect.
(Turning up the Magus)This card represents what used to be. The Magus is the energy, the power in everything, everywhere.
(Turning up the Devil)This card represents what’s ahead. The Devil means bad times,or a revolutionary new situation.
(Turning up the Tower)The Tower stands for a struggle between extreme opposites.
(Turning up the Lovers)This one stands for your dreams or fantasies. Um, moving right along...
(Turning up the Empress)She represents an outside influence. She’s beauty, sensuality, eroticism, willfulness and material power.
(Turning up the Hierophant)The Hierophant, or High Priest. He’s an opener of doors, an enabler.
(Turning up the Universe)The twelfth card, which represents the key element, is the Universe.
(Turning up the Judgment)The thirteenth card, signifies an impending decision or outcome. Amazing. Every single card is one of the Major Arcana. I’ve never seen that happen before.
JOHNSo what’s it mean?RUTHIEI think it means that you’re going to agonize over making a career change and you’re going to meet a really pretty but stuck-up girl.JOHN
(Trying to sound sincere)Thanks for the reading, Ruthie.
In the end, John overcomes the enemy and the universe is restored, as it was—with no one but John left aware of what transpired. He is not yet sure who survived the reversal and who didn’t.
His secretary again wants to do a reading. Three cards are missing—those that represent the three major antagonists.
INT. JOHN’S OFFICE - DAYRuthie enters with a wrapped deck of cards.
RUTHIEJohn, look what I got. A brand new Tarot deck. Let me do you a reading.John flips through the deck. He comes to the Fool.JOHNDo I have a choice?She opens the pack and sorts through the cards.
RUTHIEHeyy! The Devil...the High Priest... and the Empress are missing!JOHNHmh. Bliss, Luse and Monica...RUTHIEI got a defective pack!JOHNMaybe not. Maybe that’s my reading.
JOHNI guess he’s still with us.
Vinnie walks in.
NEXT: Byrne’s Superman Plot and More
NEXT WEEKEND: My Final, and Most Intense October Tale