Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Vale, Man from Mars (...)

Rolling Stone February cover - photo credit: Anton Corbijn/Getty Images
Article: David Bowie's Final Years
(click to enlarge)
For more recent Rolling Stone articles about DB click here.

At your newsstand: this recent TIME publication.
(Click to enlarge.)

Along with so many people, I've been grappling with the death of David Bowie - America's resident alien - since Monday of last week. I think it's amazing just how many of us, all over the world, were not merely saddened or surprised by his death, but truly devastated. That is, we took it personally.

For the past few days I've been struggling to put into words the various ideas that have begun running through my head regarding this transformative event in our collective consciousness, but "words" seem increasingly inadequate. If a miracle occurs and I can finally gather my thoughts into something comprehensible, I'll post again. But, don't hold your breath(s). Meanwhile, I found this charming little video clip from Charlie Rose's 1998 interview with David, that I'll post here... and I'll be replacing the Bowie tunes on the sidebar with some others. At this moment, it's the best I could do.

Bliss to David, and peace to you all.


"A pair of wings, a different respiratory system, which enabled us to travel through space, would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus while keeping the same senses, they would clothe everything we could see in the same aspect as the things of the Earth. The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we do, with great artists; with artists like these we do really fly from star to star."

- Marcel Proust. Quote lifted off yesterday's Daily Grail news page, along with this announcement.

As it happens, I've just located a number of applicable quotes by Proust on the Goodreads pages. Here's another:

“Everything great in the world is done by neurotics; they alone founded our religions and created our masterpieces.”

"Barnbrook loved working with David Bowie, he was simply one of the most inspirational, kind people we have met. So in the spirit of openness and in remembrance of David we are releasing the artwork elements of his last album ★ (Blackstar) to download here free under a Creative Commons non-commercial share alike licence. That means you can make t-shirts for yourself, use them for tattoos, put them up in your house to remember David by and adapt them too, but we would ask that you do not in any way create or sell commercial products with them or based on them.
Any questions or commercial licence usage please contact us

(The Blackstar image above is my own modification of the download. Click to enlarge, and feel free to grab it for your personal, non-commercial use.)


For those interested, Reality Sandwich has DB's natal astrology chart online. Interestingly, he, like myself, was born with his Capricorn sun in the 12th house. Unlike myself, he had a lot of fire and air in his chart, which is reflected by his incredible charisma and success as a performer.


(May 4, 2016) This just in: Apparently a fan discovered that the Black Star gatefold inside the interior of the DB's (vinyl) Blackstar album is not solid black after all. When held in the sunlight, a starry view of the night sky appears. I wonder if it's a real photo, and what area of the galaxy it is. Maybe he was trying to tell us something... ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Mojo Magic Square (with update)

Mojo Magic Square - digital - © 1981, 2014, DS
(click to enlarge)

"Mojo is magic, magical ability, and the power to get things done. "Mojo" first appeared in the 1920s in the southern United States from the Gullah word "moco" (magic), Gullah being Creole spoken by some groups of African-Americans.  The ultimate root of "mojo" was the word "moco'o," which means "shaman or medicine man" in the African language Fulani.  "Mojo" spread first into mainstream Black English and then general usage primarily through the popularity of jazz and blues music.  Muddy Waters got his 'Mojo working' and Jim Morrison of The Doors called for the Mojo Risin'."
- Quote found here.

"Think joie de vivre, that sense of being alive, joyful, and fully present in the moment. The path to finding your mojo differs for everyone. For some, mojo is a sense of purpose and meaning in your life. For others, it’s reclaiming optimal health or sparking their creativity. Some seekers find mojo by getting in touch with the divine, while others get their mojo by getting in touch with their sexual prowess. For many, it’s all of the above."
- Quote found here.

"So what is a mojo? It is, in short, the staple amulet of African-American hoodoo practice, a flannel bag containing one or more magical items. The word is thought by some to be a corruption of the English word "magic." Others state that it is related to the West African word "mojuba," meaning a prayer of praise and homage, as it is a "prayer in a bag" - a spell you can carry. A third possible derivation is from the Bantu/Kongo word "mooyoo," the magically-charged ashes and ground up bones of an ancestor that are encased in the front of a nkisi ndoki - a fetish-statue made in the form of a human being or animal. This connection with the bones of the dead is interesting, because historically, many mojo hands have indeed contained small bones, either of animals or of humans.

Some root workers top off their mojo bags with parchments upon which are printed medieval European grimoire seals and sigils of talismanic import, particularly the Jewish-derived seals from the Greater Key of Solomon and The 6th and 7th Books of Moses, both of which are sold as sets of seals printed on parchment paper, and are used without reference to the rituals given in the texts of the original grimoire books.

These last items surprise many Caucasians, who are unaware that a strong vein of Germanic and Ashenazi Jewish folklore runs through traditional African-American hoodoo. Still, however strange it may seem to cultural anthropologists in search of "African survivals" in hoodoo practice, it is a fact that John George Hohman's "Pow-Wows or the Long Lost Friend" - first published in America in 1820 and translated into English in 1856 - has long been a staple source of inspiration for conjure-workers in both the African-American and European-American Appalachian traditions, and many a black hoodoo practitioner can cite chapter and verse of "Albertus Magnus," "The Black Pullet," "Secrets of the Psalms," "The 6th and 7th Books of Moses," "8th, 9th, and 10th Books of Moses," and other occult books of European origin."
- From an article found on Lucky Mojo.

A Sator Magic Square in Oppède, France.

"The earliest dateable Sator Square was found in the ruins of Pompeii, which was buried in the ash of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Examples may be found carved on stone tablets or pressed into clay before being fired. Its translation has been the subject of speculation with no clear consensus.

It seems that, in all early examples, it is a Rotas Square that reads "ROTAS OPERA TENET AREPO SATOR" from top to bottom, and from left to right.

The Sator Square is a four-times palindrome, and some people have attributed magical properties to it, considering it one of the broadest magical formulas in the Occident. An article on the square from The Saint Louis Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. 76, reports that palindromes were viewed as being immune to tampering by the devil, who would become confused by the repetition of the letters, and hence their popularity in magical use....

The square has reportedly been used in folk magic for various purposes, including putting out fires (the spell is "TO EXTINGUISH FIRE WITHOUT WATER" in John George Hohman's Long Lost Friend), removing jinxes and fevers, to protect cattle from witchcraft, and against fatigue when traveling. It is sometimes claimed it must be written upon a certain material, or else with a certain type of ink to achieve its magical effect."
- From the Wiki Sator Square entry.


Well, it's officially a new year in the western world, but, in the Far East, the lunar new year doesn't occur till February 2nd. (More about that later...) So, it's a relative thing, and if your "mojo" isn't quite working the way you'd like it to, you've got a whole month to get yourself in gear. Now, while "gear" isn't necessarily the operative term when defining the word mojo, dynamo, or dynamic kind of is; so, in the last analysis, you know your mojo is working when your inner world is moving seamlessly in synch with the outer world. My guess is, if one can get that down, then, regardless of all the circumstances beyond one's control, he or she will be A-OK... and as much of a contender in this game of life as anyone else is.

As it happens, mojo is a word that's been used - in various corrupted forms - quite a lot in recent years. Originally it was Hoodoo charm (although not to be confused with this hoodoo) bringing good luck and psychic protection to its bearer. Now, it's a catchword most commonly utilized by motivational speakers, executive coaches, "life" coaches, and self-help gurus when describing formulas for increasing ones productivity*, particularly in the workforce.

But, just exactly what do I mean by the word Mojo?

Mojo is animism... the dynamic energy fluctuation that makes an organism tick. If ones wiring is in top form, ones inner force pulls back and then moves forward in sync with ones conscious desires and motivations. In other words, ones Mojo is "working". On the other hand, if ones wiring has gone awry - for instance, in the case of a series of set-backs, intense trauma or injury of any kind, or just plain chronic disappointment - then ones Mojo is thrown off its game. It isn't as if you've lost it... it's that it's blocked from true expression; in other words, it's broken.

Case in point: the magic square (first image above) is something I've had on my desktop for the past 2 years. Why is this? Well, that's a good question! Before this period, I had just gone through a series of unfortunate events, and was holed up in an unfamiliar town with absolutely no clue - and no hope - for a "brighter future." Without going into details, my mojo was, in fact, at the lowest point of its existence...