A Connection?

As I mentioned earlier, my memories of past lives hit during a celestial event known as Pluto Sextile Chiron.

This is interesting, because I discovered something else tonight.

First a bit of background: In his “Exegesis,” Philip K. Dick references Asclepius or Asklepios- the ancient Greek god of healing- extensively.  He conjectured that Asklepios had contacted him.

Tonight I found out from this page, about the recently-excavated ruins of a temple of Asclepius, that Asclepius fits into the sort of myth behind Pluto and Chiron.

Asclepius, a son of Apollo, was a god of medicine in ancient Greek mythology. We are all familiar with Asclepius in a way, since the symbol that is used for medicine, the snake entwined staff, was the rod of Asclepius. According to mythology, Asclepius was brought up by the mysterious figure of ancient Greek mythology, the centaur Chiron, who raised Asclepius and taught him about the art of medicine. Because Asclepius used his powers to bring people from Hades (meaning resurrecting them), the God of Hades complained to Zeus because Asclepius converted many people from humans to immortals. The result was for Zeus to kill Asclepius with thunder.

As many of you know, Pluto is basically the Roman equivalent of Hades.  Here we have an asteroid- playing the role in the celestial drama of the teacher of Asclepius- in sextile with Pluto, a planet playing the role of the eponymous god of death.

It’s one hell of a synchronicity that this is the astrological alignment that ultimately led to me thinking I may or may not have been Philip K. Dick in a previous life.  I’m still not sure it means anything (in part because it was not Phil’s life I remembered on or about 8 September 2012) but it’s rather interesting.

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Things Looking Up Finally

So some updates to my present life that I’m very pleased to be making:

First, I’ve managed to broker a truce with the roommate.  I’ll never get all of the back rent for September and October, but because I had originally told him to move out at the end of November anyway, he has one final chance to show he’s sincere about keeping his share of things paid up.  If he doesn’t pay, he’s gone by the 30 and if he does pay, he can stay on until December.  If he can keep up his end of things for the rest of the year, then things will be just fine.

Second, I got my letters of recommendation sorted for my surgery.  My transition is nearly at a successful end.  I’ve also got an appointment with the surgeon to discuss details.  I thought I’d be scared, intimidated, or change my mind but no; not now.  I had tried to force myself not to want it because I thought it was something I could never have, but now that it’s within my grasp I find it’s on my mind every waking hour.  I’ve very nearly got myself physically and socially feeling like everything fits for once.  Unless I have serious doubts about the surgeon paid for by the Oregon Health Plan, I’m not backing down.

Finally, On 1 November I’ve got a portion of my old automobilia collection (mostly mint-in-box diecast cars) going up for auction.  It’s stuff I left behind at my father’s place in South Carolina that I have neither the money nor interest to ship out to Oregon.  The auctioneer is an old family friend in Charleston who is very excited to sell what I’m offering.

It isn’t so much that I outgrew my interest as the fact that it’s part of a past that I’m no longer keen on clinging to.  But the collection I built up before about age 21 or 22 was big and valuable enough that I’m thinking I could easily go from collecting to dealing with the stock I’ve got.

The ones I’m selling off in the near future are newer stock (90s-2000s with most from around 1995 to 1999) plus a few other random items.  I don’t expect to get more than about $800-1500 for all of it though there are a few items that have a chance of bumping the value up into the $2500 range.

I also have some very rare items from the 50s through the 70s.  These include some of the very earliest Hot Wheels cars from 1968, near-mint 1950s Rod and Custom magazines, and some dealer promo models from the 1950s.  That part of the collection is probably worth somewhere in the tens of thousands.

I’ll keep the really valuable vintage items for now.  I’ll use some of the money from selling the newer items to buy some more vintage stock.  Once I’ve acquired a large enough vintage stock, I’m going to have another auction that will leave our auctioneer friend breathless!  I’m clued in enough from years of collecting on where to get bargains, so I’m confident I’ll be able to pick the very best items with a few hundred in capital to start with.  After that, maybe I’ll use the seed money from that auction to become a picker.  It’s a good business if you know what you’re doing and I think my experience will be very helpful, since I spent so much of my youth in antique stores and learned a great deal about the antique trade in general.

Exactly why this never occurred to me, I’ll never know.  What better career for someone who lives in the past than to buy and sell artifacts from it?

It Was In The Stars

I discovered something interesting about the rough time period that my memories of the war came back.

It was on or about 8 September, 2012.  On 6 September 2012, looking at the astrological events, I come up with an entry for Pluto sextile Chiron.  Apparently, according to astrologers, this can have effects up to and slightly after the event by several days.

Pluto sextile Chiron, it is said, reveals what is hidden, what has been bullying or burdening you.  It invokes the archetype of the wounded healer in Chiron, an archetype I have been told I resonate strongly with.  It is, in short, the absolute perfect astrological alignment for a painful past life to suddenly well up to the surface.

So after three years I finally know: it was in the stars after all.  I don’t know if I believe that this was a decisive factor but it would seem that the heavens were aligned in a way consistent with what happened whether I believe it or not.

Another Hospital Trip

Well friends, I took another ER trip and once again, they could find nothing wrong.

Here’s how it played out:

3:00 PM- I’m late for a doctor’s appointment for my second surgery letter, running (as well as I can in a pair of wedges) from the Beaverton Transit Center to a clinic on First Avenue, a distance of roughly 3/4 of a mile. I arrive exhausted, winded, sweaty, with slight chest pains.

3:30 PM- Chest pains gone, replaced with arm pains. Appointment goes well.

4:00 PM- Appointment finishes. Told I should be getting my second letter in about a week. I get up and notice I’m a bit woozy.

4:03 PM- Crossing Watson I notice a pressure in my neck and shoulder that starts getting more pronounced along with a sensation of pressure in my head. Brief gray-out, feeling like I have a blockage to my brain. I sit down on a bench and call 911 because this is the first time this sensation has been so bad it almost made me pass out.

4:30 PM- Admitted to ER at Kaiser Westside in Hillsboro.

7:15 PM- After tests on blood sugar, blood gas, an EKG, a neck ultrasound, and a chest x-ray all they managed to find was a slightly elevated pulse/ blood pressure and a lymph node in the left side of my neck that was described as “prominent” and “reactive.” Rule out heart attack, stroke, diabetes, thrombus, and a shit ton of other things.

8:15 PM- Dinner, then a long ride home.

This is getting ridiculous. I keep having very real symptoms that keep getting worse, and they never find anything!

Vexed

Even though this post touches on both current events and religion, it isn’t so much about current events or religion as where these currents collide on a personal level.

I’m sure I don’t have to rehash the news of what happened at Umpqua Community College a little while ago. It’s all over the news and if you don’t know, Google it. It’s the sort of story that’s become all too common of late and I really don’t care to try to dissect the how and why of it because I’m not interested in engaging those kinds of debates any more.

What strikes me about this case- and what makes it stand out from some other recent cases- is that the gunman asked the religion of the people he shot, according to witnesses. He seems to have had an especially strong dislike of Christians.

Now, I am a long way from what most people define as “Christian,” in the sense that my beliefs fall well outside the mainstream. I take most strongly after the Valentinians and the Goodmen of Languedoc whom the inquisitors called Cathars. I am, for lack of a better descriptor, a Christian of Gnostic theology.

And so the question is inevitable: what would I have done if I was the one with a gun pointed at me? It’s easy to say that I would be true to the end, that I would hold to the spirit of the Goodmen at Monstegur who went to the stake rather than deny what they held to be true. It’s easy to say I would emulate my own character, Godric, and put my trust entirely in a true God above God even at the hour of my greatest peril.

It’s easy to say these things because it is rare, in the Western world, for anyone to be faced with that circumstance.

Moreover, it’s easy to say it for me in particular because for many years I was not a Christian and spent a good seven years of my life when such concerns were simply someone else’s and not my own. But what happened the other day, as rare as it is, has forced me to consider that it can happen and I have to know what my answer is going to be in case it does happen.

I am not asking for an answer; I just needed to get this off my chest. I’m not obsessed with martyrdom and I think anyone who is obsessed with martyrdom is a dangerous person who should probably get their meds adjusted. But I also believe in taking a stand and living by example. What would that say about Gnosticism if I was the one Christian in the room who denied I was Christian to save my own hide?

These thoughts have been heavy on my mind. Maybe heavier than they should be but it is what it is.

Out And About

As the punishing heat of the El Nino summer dissipates into a mild early autumn, I’ve been trying to make good on my promise to myself to get out more.

Today I rode a bus down Barbur Blvd. in Portland down to a world food market near the Barbur Transit Center.  I’m going to have to go back because they had a lot of the necessary exotic ingredients I might need to recreate some of the recipes in the Forme of Cury (a 14th Century cookbook full of delicious recipes).

I met a Londoner there… how I love meeting Britons anywhere in the world!  There’s always an instant rapport when we get talking about the comforts of home.  He gave me some good tips on places to check out including a chippy up North Portland and a British food store and tea room down in Lake Oswego called Lady Di’s.

So, grinning ear to ear, I hopped on the bus and went the opposite way, back through City Center and down Sandy.

The stretch of Sandy Blvd. I was on is a rather unusual place.  There’s a lot of mid-century architecture; it must have been heavily developed from about 1930 to 1970.  There are novelty buildings shaped like jugs of rum and persian Palaces (and there used to be a now-infamous chicken place which is now an unassuming rib joint), there are art deco theaters and offices, and there’s a jet age Pepsi bottling plant.

Among (and sometimes inside) these relics of the mid-century, sprouting almost cthonically like the wilted flowers of yesteryear bearing fruits of chintz, are numerous vintage shops selling pretty much every item of everyday life from the last 100 years or so.  They cater not only to collectors, but to hipsters who appropriate items for re-use as decor and to old souls who actually use these items the way they were intended (and there are many in this city).

I was looking for things that jog memories, as I often do, or things that might have some sentimental value related to past lives.  I was also looking for a suitable Edwardian tin to become the basis for a sort of portable shrine to John I’ve been wanting to put together for a while now.

As “Sleepwalk” by Santo and Johnny played on the PA, a friendly clerk in a pretty black Chinese dress asked if there was anything she could help me find.

Thinking quick, I gave her a perfectly plausible story about a thrice-great uncle who had died in the war and an unwise great aunt who had thrown out his belongings, which is utter bullshit.  I then told her that I wanted to create a simulacrum of the sort of thing he might have kept in his dresser had he survived the war as a sort of shrine in his memory, which is entirely true.

She replied that she did get Edwardian tins in every now and then and I left my contact info just in case.

I wandered a bit more, going into a couple more stores, mostly lost in my own thoughts as I picked through the detritus of eras I vaguely remember, lost in the inscrutable mess of past life memories and present life ruminations.

I wonder sometimes if the bits and pieces of John Harris’ life weren’t sold off in shops like this.  Photographs without context bundled into bins and sold piecemeal, letters from the front, his old phonograph un-played since the summer of 1914, memorial placards distributed among his friends and family back home, all of them behind glass and priced to sell.  It’s a desolate thought, but these are exactly the sort of items from other people’s lives I kept seeing.

All the while I kept feeling the strangest yearning to be a straw hat-wearing dandy.  I pictured myself in those days as a handsome man with a straight back and a trim figure, enjoying all the things a young Victorian or Edwardian dandy might enjoy, and I cringed to think of myself, bloated and craven and hovering between male and female.  For a while I thought “what the hell happened to me?” and questioned if I should have transitioned at all.

But then I realized that these weren’t my aspirations at all, they were John’s.  In every one of them I was dreaming of a time that doesn’t exist any more.  And when I thought of forswearing my gender-bending ways and becoming an anachronistic dandy in the 21st century, it began to feel silly and wrong; that just isn’t me at all.

At times I feel that fragments of my earlier selves compete with who I am now, and have to be reminded that the past is gone.  Maybe vintage shops aren’t the best place for someone like me after all.