Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Path 12


      Several weeks before we were scheduled to move into Blackmore’s rental house, I peeked through the garage door at empty shelves, smelling the familiar scent of dust and wood and turpentine and oil. At first I sensed the potential within the perpetually rough, unfinished space reserved traditionally for vehicles, junk, and men. Since women tend to avoid the garage, fearing plump black widows and roaches and rats, for a moment I imagined that I could turn the empty space into a man cave, a work space full of tools, or a modest gym with weights, or a music studio--each of which would require more effort than I am normally willing to expend. At that moment I also felt that I was not alone--even though nobody else was in the garage. My attention suddenly turned toward the ceiling. Long boards of different lengths--even what appeared to be a painted door--stretched across the rafters.
Two of Pentacles
     When I was five or six my brother coaxed me up a ladder to a similar makeshift ceiling in the rafters of the garage.  After we climbed up the ladder, we searched the dim, fusty space, then stretched out, remaining silent when our mother called us. I felt oddly comfortable in that secluded space and closed my eyes. Apparently I fell asleep, and as I was snoozing, my brother sneaked down and moved the ladder. When I opened my eyes, I realized I was all alone. After a moment of panic, I again began to enjoy the sense of solitude, and I stayed in the same spot, furious that my brother had left me stranded, until my father pulled the car into the garage a few minutes later. After my dad closed the door to the garage and went inside, I hung from one of the rafters, then dropped several feet onto the roof of the car. I was so small that I barely made a dent.
     Curious about the rafters in Blackmore’s otherwise empty garage, I found a ladder and climbed high enough to peer over the large planks of wood. After my eyes adjusted, I could tell that water had seeped through a hole in the roof. I was about to step down but noticed a lumpy shape that resembled an old canvas bag in a corner. I moved the ladder as close as I could, curious but without much hope that anyone would have left any items of value. 
     The former tenant had died on the property. There was a remote chance that the item had been overlooked or ignored, so I strained to reach the bag, barely brushing it with my fingertips. I would have to move a heavy plank to get closer. Instead I strained to reach it one more time and pressed down with my fingertips on the edge of the bag, dragging it with great effort a fraction of an inch.  Encountering success, I tried again, and eventually inched the bag close enough to grab.
The Tree of Life Matrix
     As soon as I got it down to the ground, I unzipped the bag, which was stuffed full of old clothes. Disappointed but still determined, I dug to the bottom and felt a hard item wrapped in linen. I unwound the cloth and discovered ten gemstones hanging like earrings from a strange matrix, each gem a different color. Not being a jeweler, I couldn’t tell whether the gems were authentic.  I do not know much about jewels in general, but out of the ten gems, I recognized a diamond, a sapphire, a ruby, an emerald, an opal, and an amethyst. Purple is my favorite color, so I was immediately attracted to the amethyst. 
     As I touched the gem I felt a door open between my eyes. I don’t know how else to describe it. Suddenly I sensed that I could see into another dimension.  I let go of the amethyst and blinked my eyes, and the sensation vanished. I have always been a little psychic, but right after I touched the amethyst, I thought that I glimpsed a ghost in the corner--which vanished as soon as I became aware of it. The experience was so fleeting that I wasn’t entirely sure.
       I stared at the matrix on which the jewels were hanging.  Each jewel hung inside a circle. I counted three pillars, the middle pillar with four circles and each outer pillar with three circles, for a total of ten circles. I then noticed also that the matrix could be viewed as three triangles positioned on three pillars. The top triangle pointed upward, and the middle and bottom triangles pointed downwards. One circle, which was not part of any triangle, stood alone at the bottom. 
     I needed to do more research to understand the significance of the matrix. I carefully wrapped the structure back up in the linen, then carried it to my car, unsure about whether I should share the treasure with Blackmore or anyone else. 
Four of Swords
     When I got home, I stretched out on the couch to contemplate my treasure and perhaps catch a quick nap. I soon drifted off. When I woke up, I was still fatigued, so I closed my eyes again and let my mind drift in a timeless state. I don’t know how long I remained in the void--perhaps over an hour--but suddenly I beheld a gray figure-eight floating on its side above my head.  I also saw the walls of my room so clearly that I thought I had opened my eyes, so I blinked.  The figure-eight disappeared.
     That vision, I now believe, was stimulated by the amethyst.  I also realize now that when touching the amethyst, I experienced the energy of the ninth sphere of the Tree of Life known as Yesod, an energy that opens up the psychic centers. Someone must have charged each gem on the matrix with the energy of each respective sphere on the Tree.
     Only an idiot would deny the existence of germs because he doesn’t see them, yet most rational people still don’t believe in spirits--because they have never “seen” one. Instruments for revealing spiritual entities in a scientifically verifiable manner do not yet exist, so people tend not to believe in ghosts or demons or angels until they have encountered one. All the while, a person might unknowingly become more and more unbalanced because of a subtle evil influence.  Blackmore has attempted to kill me more than once--how many times I can only guess. He has become obsessed with the notion. It’s possible that his mind has become unhinged by a dark force, what many call a demon, the way that the body can be sickened by germs.
Nine of Swords
    Not long after the vision of the gray figure-eight, I visited the bookstore. While there, I had an unexpected and totally uncharacteristic desire to buy a pack of Tarot cards. Normally I would hang out exclusively in the literature section of the bookstore, but that day I searched through the New Age section. I was immediately attracted to a book on the Tarot and browsed until I found the Universal Waite Tarot deck.    
     As the cashier was ringing up the items, he confided that he had been thinking about "getting back into" the Tarot himself. Not knowing quite how to respond, I paused, and suddenly the word "synchronicity" popped out of my mouth. I confess that at the time I wasn't even totally certain what the word meant. The cashier smiled and handed over my purchase. I then drove to another store on a different errand. 
     Before I got out of the car, I flipped through the book and stopped at a page that featured a striking photo of a man named Carl Jung. I glanced at the text below and immediately discovered that Carl Jung had coined the term synchronicity to suggest how events in the external world can significantly mirror the symbolic world of the subconscious mind. I then opened the pack of Tarot cards. The second card I encountered, called “The Magician,” showed a man with a gray figure-eight floating on its side above his head. I flipped through the book to a description of "The Magician" and discovered that the gray figure-eight, called a lemniscate, is a symbol of eternity.  In the card, the lemniscate suggests the knowledge of the infinitude within. 
Eight of Swords
   I continued reading the book and decided that in my vision I had tapped into another dimension and had encountered a symbol, which a few days later would surface in "real" life, and as I read on I discovered that the symbol system of the Tarot dove-tails in every way with the mystic symbol system known as the Tree of Life.
     I avoid telling people about the other "coincidence": Before I envisioned the lemniscate, I had discovered a version of the matrix of the Tree of Life in the garage with gems hanging like earrings within the ten circles that represent the spheres known as the sephiroth.
     Because of the vision of the lemniscate, I began meditating and started envisioning pearls in the joints of my fingers and a rainbow of wheels, which I discovered later are known as chakras, spinning in front of me along my spinal cord. I noticed impurities in the vortices and mentally wiped them clean with a white cloth. 
     Some of the spinning wheels were harder to keep clean than others, however. I kept mentally draining the blackness from my heart and emptying trash from my crown chakra, for instance, but the blackness and the trash kept returning, so for a long time--in fact, until this day--I continue to purify my aura. 
     Despite all of my visions, I still doubted the existence of a spirit realm. So I began to do rituals to see what would happen, such as “The Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram,” which invoked the Archangels of the four “elements of the wise.” Once, even though I felt clumsy while conducting the ritual, I was touched by the energy of an intelligence so far above my own that I felt like an amoeba in comparison--I was suddenly immersed in a thought-bubble of mind-boggling complexity, which impressed me with a sense of eternity and a level of knowledge that I cannot begin to comprehend.
Path 32

   The next day at the end of the ritual I glimpsed a vague presence from a different dimension. Unfortunately, I neglected to do the banishing ritual of the pentagram, partly, I realized later, because I wanted to know for sure whether or not I had invoked a spiritual entity. That night, as I was falling asleep, something shook me so violently that I felt like every cell in my body was vibrating. I didn’t know what to do, so I just continued to lie there, hoping that it would go away.
   But just as I was falling asleep again, something nudged me hard four times. I felt around for my dog and turned on the light, discovering that my dog was sound asleep on the other side of the room, and no one else that I could see was in the room.
     When you contact other spiritual dimensions, beings on the other side notice you. If you are unbalanced in any way, some beings from the other side will try to unhinge you. The people around you become vulnerable, especially if the evil or mischievous spirits cannot immediately unbalance you. 
     An evil spirit began tormenting my daughter. According to her, as she was falling asleep, she heard a voice that sounded like her mother’s voice whispering, “Don’t turn around.” This terrified her but piqued her curiosity. She slowly turned her head and saw a figure that resembled black smoke in the shape of a human being next to her bed.  Suddenly the figure jumped on the wall, then started crawling across the ceiling. My daughter tore off her blankets and dashed to her mother’s room. On another night, my daughter could hear a man weeping and begging for mercy in her closet--the closet with the blood splatters on the ceiling. 
     My wife began having nightmares. Several times, she stood up, sound asleep, yelling and swinging her arms. When she woke up, she had no recollection of fighting for her life.
     I had no idea, when I first touched the amethyst on the Tree of Life, that each circle on the matrix represents a state of being, and each state contains both a balanced and an unbalanced aspect. Since someone charged each gem on this Tree of Life matrix with the energy from its respective sphere, anyone touching a gem on this matrix also touches the energy of that state of being and opens himself to both the unbalanced and balanced aspects of the energy, a virtue and a vice, so to speak.
     The second gem I touched, the emerald, represents the sphere of Venus: the sphere of nature and the arts and the beauty of the life force.  The virtue of the sphere of Venus is unselfishness and the vice is unchastity--a chronic state of lust. 

Path 14
   Right after I touched the emerald, I had the urge to drive out to the Kings River. While lounging on a rock, surrounded by oaks and sycamores, I sensed an overarching consciousness, as if all the plants and trees and even rocks in that place had tuned to one frequency, a peace beyond understanding, and I too had effortlessly tuned my mind to that vibration. My mind had tuned to the Over-soul. I was on the path between Yesod, the ninth sphere of psychism represented by the amethyst, and Netzach, the seventh sphere of nature represented by the emerald.  In other words, I had become psychic enough to experience the spirits behind the “outer robe of concealment" of the natural world. 
     After I got home, however, I began compulsively surfing through internet porn, until I recognized that I had to deal with the influx of energy from the state of Netzach (Venus) in a more balanced manner. I was only able to return to a sense of harmony after I cleansed myself and the house with the banishing ritual for several days.
Ten of Swords
     I am afraid--and I should emphasize that I am not entirely sure about this--that the demonic spirit I had attracted followed John Blackmore and edged him even farther into a state of homicidal rage. Whatever actually happened on the spiritual level, I know that I have achieved a low point in my own karmic career, considering the circumstances. I could blame my failings on chronic illness and the way society crushes artists and activists and free thinkers, but I intuited that I needed to change radically and to do something that did not involve the police in order to resolve the karmic debt. Unfortunately, I do not know exactly what I have done to deserve my fate, though I am pretty sure that it is warranted for one reason or another. Perhaps I had committed a heinous crime against John in a previous life, or maybe all the negative energy that I have subconsciously projected at other people is boomeranging back to me. I tried meditating again to heal my mind and heart to become more balanced--to attract harmony instead of the dark, destructive energies that may have attracted John Blackmore into my life.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Ithuriel's Spear near Native American Village Site

     The second time Blackmore attempted to murder me, my wife and daughter were again away on a trip, but this time I slept in my wife’s bedroom. That night I pushed a heavy chest against the door that accesses the patio and piled other heavy items, such as the TV, on top of the chest. I locked the hall door, and positioned empty beer bottles on the floor. Blackmore would not be able enter without making a great deal of noise.
     His strategy the second time, in fact, was to make as much noise as possible to spur me into the hallway. He entered the house a different way the second time, through the back door into the laundry room, and from there he tiptoed through the kitchen and dining room, then loudly pulled open the door between the dining room and the hall. Within a matter of seconds, he pulled open the guest-room door and the door to my daughter’s bedroom. Then, I assume, he stood, gun drawn, waiting for me to appear.  Strangely, I knew the exact moment he realized that I was in my wife’s bedroom. An emotional current of homicidal rage, mingled with confusion and disappointment, flowed through the bedroom door. 
     I waited to see what his next move was going to be since he had lost the element of surprise. He didn’t make another sound. He did not come around the outside of the house to my wife’s bedroom patio door. At some point he simply slipped out. Despite my efforts to be prepared, I had forgotten to charge the phone. The phone’s battery was dead before he entered the house. Once again I had no proof. 
   The stakes had risen. At first he was determined to commit cold-blooded, premeditated murder while I slept. John, of course, would never attempt such a crime when my wife and daughter were home, but the second attempt revealed that he was now willing to resort to physical confrontation to achieve his ends, and the chance that others might learn of his viciousness was no longer stopping him. 
     John also probably had some reason to believe that I might suspect him. He no doubt went over every detail of his first attempt and at some point realized that I had been sleeping in my daughter’s bedroom.
Larkspur next to House Pit
     I pretended to be oblivious to his nefarious intentions while striving to understand the mind of a sociopathic killer. 
     He is obviously one of the most methodical and cold-blooded of killers, the kind who waits for years to let his plan unfold and lies in wait for his victim. He is willing to defer gratification to establish the most ideal conditions so that no one will ever suspect him. 
     His first attempt to murder me in my sleep was partly stealth, partly the act of a predator who has weighed all the risks before attacking, and partly cowardice. The second noisy attempt revealed a hint of desperation, a willingness to risk confrontation while maintaining a distinct advantage. He is of course aware that I dislike the thought of owning weapons of any kind.
     At some point he dedicated himself irrevocably to deception. He must have realized that he might need to play a part for years while attempting to create greater intimacy with my wife, all the while never disclosing his real intentions. He dedicated himself to a total compartmentalization of feelings to accomplish his ends. He had to always, always present the kindest, most thoughtful side of himself even as in secret he was becoming more and more engrossed in carrying out his homicidal plan.
     I am no psychologist, but I believe I understand a sort of primal motivation. As someone who is well aware that nature is red in tooth and claw, Blackmore no doubt prides himself on being stealthier and more ferocious than his prey, and I mean prey, plural, because I believe that I’m not the only one.  
     He owns seven rental houses, but one of them is full of his junk and several others are in disrepair. He is a hoarder, his own house a disaster-area overflowing with newspaper and styrofoam and cans and bottles and numerous odds and ends that he has collected over the years.  He no doubt in his own mind has a clear system of organization, but an insistence on this system long ago resulted in a horrific, unrelenting disorder. A great deal of junk ends up in his unrented houses as well, and I’m betting that bodies can also be found on some of those properties. You do not have to be a genius to figure out that his houses reflect a chaotic inner state. In various attempts to assert control he no doubt has murdered other people along the way.
Pestles on Pounding Stone

     I must confess that at first I only tolerated him because he kept helping my wife and family, and unfortunately, since I have a chronic illness and never make enough money, I easily became duped by his phony generosity, especially since I considered him a comrade in our fight to protect the environment. 
     Signs of his deviousness should have alerted me. John is married--yet my wife has become the object of his devotion. He apparently has acted the perfect gentleman around my wife, in all but two instances.  He once commented about how my wife’s blouse revealed too much cleavage, a comment that my wife vehemently objected to. He also asked my wife to act as a surrogate mother for him since he and his own wife remained childless. He proposed using a turkey baster to make my wife pregnant. My wife and I of course found the idea totally absurd. 
     In retrospect, I should have decked him and demanded that he never show his face around my house again. But John had at other times seemed so rational and had done so many things for us--for my wife--over the years, and he had also accomplished so many positive things for the community through his activism that I felt sorry for him.  His “turkey-baster" proposal remained an embarrassment for him that no doubt became the trigger for a homicidal rage.  He did not like to feel embarrassed around a man he considered inferior. Embarrassment no doubt also made him feel inadequate and out of control.
Indian Pinks
     The first time Blackmore tried to murder me, one of the most chilling sounds was a sigh: He sighed immediately after he cocked the gun and stepped into the guest room, just before he discovered I wasn’t there. The sigh revealed excitement, satisfaction, relief, as if a pressure valve had opened for a moment: the almost sexual excitement of total domination, the ego satisfaction of proven superiority, the relief of successfully realizing his obsessive homicidal goals.
     I have searched the mountains for Native American village sites for almost twenty years, but I never contemplated the motivation for genocide before Blackmore attempted to murder me. From what I’ve experienced, I now believe that the motivation for the systematic extermination of an entire race is similar to the motivation of the sociopath who kills in a calculated, methodical manner.
     Several weeks after Blackmore’s first attempt, I explored the bottom of a reservoir at the confluence of a river and a creek.  Cockle burrs blanketed the otherwise denuded slopes. A faint dirt road snaked through a Native American village site, close to the pounding stones, between the dark skeletons of oaks and sycamores, all of which had remained under water for over sixty years.  At one point Blackmore and I at different times had fought the cultural and environmental devastation caused by dams, yet that had not created any real basis for comradeship. Instead he viewed me as a threatening rival, similar to the way the early settlers of European descent must have viewed the Native Americans. 

Pestles on Pounding Stone

     The early settlers must have felt afraid of the unknown surroundings and the Native Americans who were far more knowledgeable about the environment. A sense of vulnerability must have at times overwhelmed those early settlers. Unfortunately for the Native Americans, the settlers had better weapons and enough fear to fuel their undeclared war day after day, year after year, until they finally cleared the region of the Native American presence. 
     Unlike other species, which use violence as a means of survival, killing in self defense or when hungry, humans often exhibit a twisted type of maliciousness, providing an array of meanings to justify violence, usually for emotional, social, religious, economic or political reasons, a self-justifying behavior which is almost as common for social groups, political institutions, and religious organizations as it is for individuals.  The overwhelming fear of being out of control sometimes leads to a vicious cycle; in recent times, for instance, governments have stock-piled weapons of mass destruction that can destroy the world many times over. The more destructive the technology, the greater the fear, and the more terrifying the weapons become.
Bowl-Shaped Mortars
     Serial killers are often physically, emotionally or sexually abused as children and grow vengeful against a particular group, such as Blacks, Native Americans, women, gays, or Hispanics, and they often target members of a group indiscriminately. Individual sociopaths and sociopathic groups tend to target others who are different, blaming them for causing negative feelings or circumstances. Some sociopaths have a predisposition for calculated, “instrumental” violence, which they direct at an individual with characteristics that trigger feelings of inadequacy or fear. 
     One of the most common causes of hoarding is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder--whose sufferers exhibit traits such as trouble finishing projects, difficulty throwing things away, exaggerated conscientiousness, and perfectionism. They constantly experience the sense of being out of control, so they hoard to address every possible material contingency.
     Blackmore is articulate, intelligent, and interesting. The sociopath often has an abundance of charm and wit and may also appear friendly and considerate, attributes that are superficial. These personal qualities blind  people to a personal agenda stemming from a profound feeling of inadequacy. 

Pestle in Mortar

     My wife once told me that Blackmore had been deeply scarred by a cruel father and had remained powerless to protect a vulnerable mother--so it was logical for him to feel a subconscious desire to destroy men and protect women. Blackmore’s cruel father left him feeling vulnerable: He could neither protect his mother nor himself. He must have often felt inadequate in the eyes of his mother. Any man who triggered that feeling of inadequacy could easily become the target of a hidden, homicidal fury.
     At one point he might have experienced the excitement of an assault where he was completely in control, an experience that propelled him over the edge to commit an act that would give him the ultimate sense of control: murder. The sociopath understands a crime’s seriousness but nevertheless experiences such a rush that he risks the consequences. If he has gotten away with murder, he continues to develop confidence, which motivates him to continue to seek the same excitement and sense of control.
House Pits next to Pounding Stone
   As an activist, Blackmore has often undermined men who have gotten in his way, but he has earned the trust of my wife through seemingly limitless generosity. His unflagging kindness could not make my wife feel romantic love for him, however, which only made him resent me even more. Whenever we had problems with the car or around the house, my wife called John, and he would come running, but she would never offer to pay him back--in any way. This no doubt satisfied his unconscious need to be the hero for the female and to belittle the male in his own mind--without of course ever openly expressing his disdain.
     Over the years, he developed a persona that makes him appear to be the most rational of human beings as a way to hide the fear and chaos in his soul, for he has proven to be one of the most calculating and treacherous and deceitful of men. 
     At one point, my wife and I experienced a rough patch and separated for several months. Blackmore must have considered my absence his chance to fill the void in my wife’s heart, but being married himself, he had to be delicate about it, and because he is calculating and methodical, he took too long. My sudden return must have unbalanced him, triggering old feelings of inadequacy. At that point, no doubt, I became his enemy for life. 

Pounding Stone at Bottom of Reservoir in Drought Year

     The spiritual path is not for pussies. On one hand, you see the best in people. You know the magnificence, abundance, and harmony of the human spirit because you have experienced it in yourself.  And you know that everything is profoundly and inextricably connected. On the other hand, you know the fear, guilt, shame, or sense of inadequacy that can make a person or group or society turn on you. Because of your sympathy and understanding, you have no desire to harm another person. Because of your heightened awareness, you know when someone is harboring a hatred for you that is motivating him or her to find every means imaginable to destroy you without being detected. Because of our fear and our deadly technology, as a race we are a few seconds from midnight. Even so, as a spiritual person, you can do nothing but establish and maintain harmony in your own sphere.
     Truly a force to reckon with on the mental level, John attacks every problem, from fixing a toilet to influencing the political system, in a methodical manner. When it comes to matters of the heart, John has used the same method, calculating every move. Consequently it had taken him years to set up the circumstances that would lead to the perfect murder, using a business method perfected by Howard Hughes, first treating his adversary like a friend to gain his trust and then destroying him. I’m guessing that at least five years have passed since John first began developing his plan, and in the process, John's heart has simply continued to grow blacker. By focusing on committing the perfect murder, he has been channeling pure evil into his heart, transforming himself into a deceitful, cold-blooded killer, not a lover. Even if he succeeds in getting rid of me and winning my wife’s affections, the wheel has been spinning in the direction of evil for years; it would, at this point, be impossible to make it suddenly stop and spin the other way. John has destroyed his own ability to love. He has undermined himself, which of course is little consolation to me.

Friday, March 27, 2015


     As I stepped into my bedroom, I sensed the presence of a fierce, menacing spirit. After a moment, I recognized who it was because each soul has a unique energy, an invisible signature written on the world, both in life and in death. I was surprised because I had not encountered the man in many years, and even though I knew he was extremely old, I was unaware that he had passed away. I do not purposely insult people often, but a few years ago I had gone out of my way to offend the man because he had pretended to stand up for the powerless but had abused the little power that he had managed to command. He was a megalomaniac, a twisted hypocrite, and I had publicly let him know my opinion of him. 
Five of Swords
Tree of Life: Mars in Geburah 

     The sensation of being attacked by a spirit is unmistakable. A harmful spirit will sometimes engulf a living person with a freezing, dense energy. Since the energy is so heavy, a sense of paralysis often occurs whether or not the living person is petrified by fear. At the mercy of an invisible spirit, a living person will usually emanate sheer terror, upon which the demonic spirit feeds, the way a vampire feeds upon blood. I say “demonic” because even if the spirit is human, its intent is to abuse another soul for its own delight. Without any social constraints, a bully in life often becomes demonic in death (at least for awhile).
     I had been attacked by spirits before, so fortunately I knew how to handle it. After I walked into the room, the spirit did not immediately jump me, possibly because he was new at the game or surprised that I recognized his presence. He overcame his hesitancy and made his move, engulfing me with his dense energy a minute or so after I got into bed. I could tell that he soon regretted it, however, because he quickly lost his zeal when I imagined my soul radiating light like the sun. When he experienced the intense light and realized that he was not scaring me in the least, he loosened his grip on me, and his energy soon vanished.
    A day after my encounter with his spirit, I found out in the paper that he had died of cancer. His soul, I concluded, had left his body before the doctors had officially declared him dead. 
Five of Cups
Mars in 1 - 10 degrees of Scorpio
     His spirit came back to visit a few days later. He was at that point profoundly despondent because, without the distractions of the physical world, he could see himself truly, which I am sure was a challenge for him. I don’t know if he wanted anything of me, but during the second visit he made no attempt to attack me. I mentally acknowledged his presence without hindering his progress in any way, and soon he disappeared once again.
     I have made myself sensitive to the spirit world through physical, mental, and spiritual purification and through a particular jewel in my possession. I do not see spirits with my physical eyes. My subconscious senses the energy and an image of the entity is cast upon the screen of my mind. I see it, in other words, with my “third eye.” I have only seen a spirit with my physical eyes once. Faintly effervescent, the spirit was transparent and seemed to slant in and out of this dimension. That spirit, extremely powerful and malicious, was the first I ever encountered, and I could tell that it wished to do me harm the moment I glimpsed it. One night--invisible the whole time--it shook me so hard I thought I was going to fly into pieces. Then it nudged me hard four times. A few days later, it made farting noises right behind me. That was when I learned how to deal with malicious spirits.
The Prince of the Chariot of Fire
     For the past few years, after I cleansed my aura and began having visions of spiritual archetypes, while totally awake I have been touched lightly on the head and face numerous times, tapped on the shoulder, caressed, and enveloped by beings that I cannot see.  I have heard a capella singing and strange noises even though no other person is even remotely in the vicinity. To some extent, I have become clair-sentient and clair-audient and clair-voyant, experiencing spiritual vibrations with the subtle senses of the aura, or the “soul senses.”
     I have tried to ignore paranormal experiences for most of my life because society forces us to live within a very narrow range of vibration, conditioning us to block the pathways to the soul--that essential aspect of each one of us connected to vast, scary, powerful cosmic forces. Human beings, however, are comprised of these cosmic vibrations. (One symbol system, known as the Tree of Life, reveals the different types of energy in the cosmos and how they relate to the individual human being.)
     These powerful, subtle forces can make people feel small and without much control. Our social system, on the other hand, strives to create the illusion that humans are in control of the world. We become afraid of any forces that challenge our limited perceptions of the cosmos.  How many years did it take before we accepted that the Earth is not the center of the universe? It will no doubt take at least as long for humanity to accept that the physical universe is only a tiny aspect of the cosmos as a whole.
Path 15
     As a teenager, I struggled with physical illness and depression. I didn’t know then that I was suffering from celiac disease and food allergies, which, in my case, cause debilitating stomach problems, irritating joint pain, and severe depression. Those problems have continued to grow worse, until now I experience heart palpitations whenever I eat a miniscule amount of gluten. Doctors, one of whom noted in his records that I was a hypochondriac, have misdiagnosed me for over forty years.
     (Look, I know you don’t believe that food can cause heart palpitations and depression any more than you believe that I’ve encountered spiritual entities. In fact you won’t believe ninety-five percent of what I am saying even if it’s ninety-five percent true: The other five percent I'm just not totally sure about. I will forever remain a fiction that you either find entertaining or ignore.)
     The first time I made the connection between heart palpitations and food was two years ago, right after I ate a leftover slice of chocolate cake from Rosine’s Restaurant in Monterey, CA, while my wife was attending a conference. A few minutes after I finished the cake, my heart began wildly missing beats and continued to beat irregularly for over an hour. I managed to take a nap and woke up to a regular heartbeat. My digestive system had become so damaged over the years that a piece of cake loaded with gluten made my heart go haywire. Soon after that, if I ate even a little bit of gluten, in a cheerio or a crust of bread, for instance, my heart would beat irregularly.
     Your heart has no doubt at some point skipped a beat, and you may have wondered for a moment if you were dying from a heart attack. Imagine that your heart keeps skipping a beat every few seconds, for hours at a time--just keeps fluttering, unable to find a regular rhythm. This is what happens to me after I eat a miniscule amount of gluten. 
     The gluten protein is hidden in almost every product on grocery store shelves. Even quinoa contains a protein that mimics gluten. To those who are truly sensitive, many of the products labeled “gluten-free” cause a reaction. The industry standard for that label is not adequate to protect a person with full-blown celiac disease. 
Nine of Swords
Mars in 11 - 20 degrees of Gemini
     For those with the disease, stimulants such as coffee and alcohol can also trigger heart palpitations. Arrhythmia is the most frightening symptom, but the worst effects occur in the digestive tract. A piece of bread feels like acid as it slides down the aesophagus--a precursor to what happens in the rest of the digestive system: nausea, severe cramping, excessive gas, diarrhia or the opposite, extended periods of constipation. I have spent many hours on the toilet in so much pain that I thought I was going to pass out or die.
     I am not noticeably crippled by the disease. In other words, I’m not in a wheelchair or using crutches or wearing a respirator, so people generally do not believe that I have a physical debility. Instead, most people jump to the conclusion that my symptoms are psychological--or that I am lying. One of the few friends I have keeps--consciously or not--pronouncing the word “celiac” as “silly act."
Five of Pentacles
Tree of Life: Mars in Geburah
     Failures in society are often chronically ill, artistic, spiritual, antisocial, politically aware, or unlucky. I happen to be all of these at once, and no doubt because of that a homicidal maniac has repeatedly attempted to kill me--but no one believes that either.
     One night, a thud woke me up. The cat would sometimes leap to the floor or knock things over, so I wasn’t concerned at first, but then I remembered that I had rigged an “alarm" by positioning the ironing board, with the iron at its edge, next to my wife’s bedroom door, so that when the door was pushed inward from the patio, the iron would tip over and plunge to the floor. As my eyes adjusted in the darkness I remembered that I was in my daughter’s bedroom. I stayed alert, telling myself that I was being silly, when suddenly I heard, right in front of the door to the guest room across the hall--my “bedroom"--the sound of someone releasing the safety on a gun.
     I stopped breathing. For a long time, silence dominated the house until I distinctly heard the click of someone unlocking the bathroom window.   
     Besides the family, only one other person knew that I slept in the guest room because of my snoring. One other person knew that my wife and daughter were away. One other person had a key to the house. One other person never caused the dog to bark. That person was probably lying in wait outside my door with a gun. 
     Suddenly I heard the clicking of claws on the wooden floor and my dog sniffing under the door. At that moment I realized that my friend had no doubt rehearsed this intrusion while everyone was away during the day, probably many times, so that he would know exactly how and where to step on the wooden floor without making creaking noises. 
     This was his window of opportunity.
     I listened carefully again. No one was stealing anything. I quietly lifted the shade and noticed the cat sleeping outside on a rug. Then I recalled that John, who had a reputation as a perfectionist, would never hire anyone else to do jobs around the house even though often he would start something and never finish it, overwhelmed by so many odd jobs that refused to be done just right....
Three of Pentacles
Mars in 11 - 20 degrees of Capricorn
     Right after we had moved in, my daughter noticed what looked suspiciously like blood splatters on the ceiling of her closet. Maybe there was another reason Blackmore never let any "professionals" into his houses....It would be just like John to paint over the wall perfectly and not notice the ceiling. When he was done painting the walls, he’d probably smiled, admired his work, and then with a sigh remembered all the other jobs he had to finish. 
     That afternoon, as I pulled into the driveway, I had discovered Blackmore, my new landlord hard at work on the sprinkler system, which made me a little uncomfortable since my wife and daughter had already left on their trip, and no one had told me that John had planned to work in the backyard. He was on his hands and knees scooping dirt from a shallow trench with a large spoon. He had already used a narrow shovel to dig a trench, placing slabs of earth in a row on the sidewalk. John was methodically making the sides and bottom of the trench even, something that apparently was necessary before he could confront the leaky pipes. John practiced the art of maintenance better than anyone I have known. Most of the solutions that he found for practical problems remained a mystery to me, but I also respected the fact that he rarely did anything unless it was absolutely necessary.
   "I hear Bush signed the bill for the feasibility study for Temperance Flat Dam," I mumbled.
   "They just keep throwing money at that project, hoping something will actually happen."
   "You don’t think anything will?"
   "Everyone knows that the era of dam building is over. I doubt that the federal government is going to build another dam when the budget is hemorrhaging due to the war."
   "But if the Interior Department finds the dam feasible, it is automatically authorized."
   "That is probably the bigger problem, the way Bush keeps gutting environmental laws, but I think the project will probably be tied up in court for years, hopefully long enough at least to get another administration into the White House."
Two of Wands
Mars in 1 - 10 degrees of Aries
   Since John is twenty-five years older than I am, I sometimes feel like a child in his presence, especially when discussing politics or practical matters. But I also suddenly began feeling a little uneasy again as I gazed at the dirt piled up in the flowerbed next to the garage.
     John and I had shoveled the dirt out of the bed of his pickup a while back because John had claimed that he was going to use it to “even out” the lawn. At the time I was living in another house, and I was simply helping him with one of his “rentals." To me, the lawn already appeared level. Over time, a small trench had formed at the top of the dirt pile where rainwater had fallen from the eaves, and bermuda was taking over the flowerbed.
   "So what sort of project have you got going here?" I asked.
   "The sprinkler system is hemorrhaging. It’s clogged in one place and leaks in another. I’ll be at this for a few days."
   "Well, thanks," I muttered. I again felt uncomfortable because I hadn’t even noticed the problem. At that moment I felt like the debt we owed John could never possibly be repaid, especially since I am chronically ill and can barely hold down two part-time jobs. I focus the little energy I have left on being an artist, writer, composer and activist, activities that generally don't make a person rich. I confess that I am not much of a provider for my family, and I’m certainly not as practical as I should be. I would rather look at flowers than kill myself making a buck.
     I went inside and stared at John through the window. I suddenly imagined a human body in the flowerbed and blinked to rid the image from my mind.
     My wife and daughter were visiting a friend for the weekend, so that evening I binged on a six pack of beer. Just as I was finishing beer number six at around ten-thirty that night, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was in danger. I usually sleep in the guest room because I snore and my wife is a light sleeper. Since the door to my room does not have a lock, and since my wife’s bedroom features a door opening onto the patio that doesn’t always latch well, I decided to sleep in my daughter’s bedroom, which no one could enter without breaking down the door. 
Five of Wands
Tree of Life: Mars in Geburah
     The house was built in the early forties with solid doors and plaster walls. A previous owner had cut one bedroom in two to create a hall and a guest room and added on the back bedroom, where my wife now sleeps. My daughter’s room, the only bedroom left untouched during the restructuring process, is still virtually impenetrable except through the windows, both of which are visible to the neighbors. 
   After awhile, as I lay in the darkness, I started drifting off to sleep, telling myself that I would have enough time to react if I heard someone trying to break into the room. He would have to break down a door in his own house, one of the most solid doors I have ever seen, and he would lose the element of surprise. He might have to engage in physical combat. The thought that he might lose the fight even though he had a gun no doubt made him hesitate. If he did lose, he would be exposed as a psychopath, which would destroy his reputation--and land him in prison. 
Seven of Wands
Mars in 21 - 30 degrees of Leo
   When I woke up the next morning after staying awake for most of the night, I inspected the house carefully to make sure no one remained hidden there and nothing was stolen. For a moment, I started to believe that I had imagined the intrusion, but then I remembered the most chilling sound of all: the unlocking of the bathroom window. I was the intended victim of a premeditated murder. 
     I have never told anyone except my wife, who is the most loving and understanding person I have ever met, about the attempts on my life, and she refuses to believe me. The first time, after several hours of straining to hear the intruder, I fell asleep and found no evidence of a break in.  If I had accused Blackmore, he would have evicted me and my family from his house, and my wife would have lost a generous patron. You see, Blackmore was letting us live rent-free in his house and paying for her classes while she worked for a teaching credential. Since the house belongs to him, fingerprints would prove nothing.
Ten of Cups
Mars in 21 - 30 degrees of Pisces
     John has remained an effective activist for many years and has “touched” the sphere of Mars in his battles for environmental quality.  He has, therefore, unlocked both the virtue and vice of that sphere. He has courage and strength, in the form of mental acuity, but he also experiences the potential for great cruelty and destructiveness. (More on that later.)
     Descriptions abound of hauntings and demonic possessions.  Has it ever occurred to anyone to ask why people aren’t visited by angels just as often? Despite our so-called rationality and all our laws and social conditioning, we remain in a highly unevolved state where our lack of balance attracts dark, horrific forces. I suspect that angels can hardly stand the unbalanced minds of human beings.