I was spend­ing some time with my par­ents this week­end. They always have the tele­vi­sion going — can’t fall asleep with­out the noise, in fact. So we’re sit­ting there in the liv­ing room chat­ting, and Unsolved Mys­ter­ies came on. Now I sel­dom turn on the tele­vi­sion at my house. I’ve seen exactly one episode of Unsolved Mys­ter­ies, and that was because I was in it.

They do this teaser about how astrologers say Jef­frey Dah­mer was doomed by the stars to be a mon­ster. I per­suaded Daddy to turn the TV off at that point, so I didn’t see the story. For some rea­son, though, it stayed on my mind. The entire idea of doing such a story was just too ludi­crous to me. What’s the point, anyway?

But if they’re going to do it, they need to go whole hog. Get a numerol­o­gist in there to do his inter­pre­ta­tion — he’d prob­a­bly find that Dah­mer should have been the Pope or some­thing. Then they could find a tarot card reader or maybe a phre­nol­o­gist to come in as a tie breaker! Maybe throw in a lit­tle new age mud wrestling on the side? (With spe­cial, expen­sive, highly ther­a­peu­tic mud from one of those fancy spas, of course.)

The best state­ment I’ve ever heard about numerol­ogy was from the inim­itable Green­man, who said “When­ever I learn that some­body is really into numerol­ogy, I feel this incred­i­ble urge to sneak up on them and scream ‘FIVE!’ to see what hap­pens.” I sup­pose you can tell that I’ve never been into that, huh?

I think some tarot decks are very pretty. I truly wish Susan Sed­don Boulet had done one before her untimely death this year. The sub­ject mat­ter would have been per­fect for her! But I’ve never stud­ied them, or learned to read them, or learned to make heads or tails of read­ings some­one else does for me. They’re just neat to look at, like Annie Sprinkle’s Post­mod­ern Pin-​​Ups. Or Magic: The Gath­er­ing cards.

I learned enough about astrol­ogy in a long-​​ago fit of enthu­si­asm to real­ize that, like many other things, it can be an excel­lent tool for learn­ing more about your­self, sim­ply because it encour­ages intro­spec­tion — noth­ing at all to do with any stars.

I fig­ure all of these things, along with the I Ching and sim­i­lar meth­ods of div­ina­tion, have value as a focus. Some folks absolutely will not get out of the way and lis­ten to what they prob­a­bly know sub­con­sciously. If they need tarot cards or coins or runes or sticks or what­ever to help them get out of their own way, that’s great. But lis­ten — don’t go telling my child that being a Scor­pio means she’ll be ter­ri­bly jeal­ous, okay? I mean, then I’d have to get really angry at you, and since I’m a Scor­pio too, with my moon and almost all my plan­ets in Scor­pio (but with Tau­rus ris­ing), you wouldn’t want that, would you?

I went through a period of fas­ci­na­tion with all these things, prob­a­bly due to the fact that my mother was absolutely pet­ri­fied of them. Had any­one ever brought an Ouija board into our home, I’m cer­tain she would have burned it while attack­ing the trans­gres­sor with scrip­ture. After I was grown she found a tarot deck that was a gift from a friend in some of my things and got rid of it with­out so much as ask­ing me, and feels absolutely no remorse. One of my cousins gave me a neck­lace with a lit­tle scor­pion on it as a birth­day gift when I was 10, and I imme­di­ately hid it — in fact, I never did wear it because I was sure Mom would destroy it when she saw it. I was truly shocked that she saw noth­ing wrong with the movie Jumanji, which Katie loves — but then, the game is por­trayed as being ter­ri­bly evil, so I sup­pose the moral­ity tale feeds right into her own belief system.

I don’t want to drive Katie into that sort of fas­ci­na­tion by for­bid­ding explo­ration of such things. Crys­tals? Lovely — we have quite a few in our mutual rock col­lec­tion, and I have sev­eral set as jew­elry. Tarot cards? I’ll hap­pily dis­cuss the mean­ings of the var­i­ous cards, as well as the merit of the art­work, with her all she likes. Astrol­ogy? Why not — and we can get into why the ancients came up with these sys­tems, the dif­fer­ences in the Greek, Asian, Celtic, Vedic, Lakota and other sys­tems, and how the study of astrol­ogy diverged from that of astron­omy. (And any­way, I’ve always found it inter­est­ing that she and her father and I were all born in the Year of the Horse (3 dif­fer­ent ones, obvi­ously) and that she and I are both Scor­pios.) Numerol­ogy? Great prac­tice for arith­metic, and we com­pare the dif­fer­ent mean­ings we get from play­ing with our names, nick­names, etc. Norse runes? More expo­sure than she’s had so far to Norse mythol­ogy and Teu­tonic lan­guages. No mat­ter what we explore together, I hope she’ll learn to keep her mind open with­out being in dan­ger of hav­ing her brain fall out — to use dis­cern­ment while enjoy­ing her sense of wonder.

You might get the impres­sion that I don’t believe in any­thing other than what we can per­ceive with the stan­dard five senses, and that is not the case at all. I know sev­eral peo­ple who can know and do things that I can­not explain eas­ily. I cer­tainly believe that there are things we can­not yet mea­sure in the sci­en­tific sense, but our lack of knowl­edge doesn’t negate their exis­tence. I do not ridicule those who find var­i­ous means of div­ina­tion help­ful to them, and I respect their greater knowl­edge on those sub­jects. How­ever, I refuse to lose sight of all rea­son, and I’ve seen a few peo­ple look to the stars or num­bers or what­ever for The Way (just as oth­ers look to a holy text or a charis­matic leader) rather than look­ing inside them­selves, and I believe it to be dan­ger­ous. We are all a com­bi­na­tion of mind, body, and spirit — and nobody can be truly whole with­out main­tain­ing a healthy bal­ance between all three.

Orig­i­nally writ­ten August 29, 1997