Things I’ve seen on my walks

Many months ago when I was newly in my life of leisure and contemplation, I made a half-assed commitment to get a little more active. A couple months ago I actually finally did this, and have been going on short walks at least every day. To be completely honest, these are usually less than 2 miles, or half an hour or so. Lately I’ve been getting a little bored with my immediate neighborhood and driving a couple miles and walking in other peoples’ neighborhoods. This gallery shows things I’ve seen on my walks. I’ll make some comments in case you wonder. Hover the mouse over the photo for comments.

Stellium in Capricorn and COVID-19 outbreak

I don’t know if you’re interested in conventional astrology at all, but while I’m holed up for this epidemic, I was playing around with some calculation programs and came up with some stuff I thought I’d share with you. I hope you can view the attached two graphics easily. 

Getting up early in the morning recently, I was struck by the cool astronomical “traffic jam” in the morning sky. Basically, Jupiter and Saturn (and invisible Pluto) have all been in a very close conjunction in the southwestern sky. This month Mars has joined the party.

See the charts below. In the first one, each wheel shows the motions of all planets for the months of Feb, Mar and April of this year, reading from the center of the circle to the outer rim. Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto don’t move very fast, so if you look at Mars, you can see it transiting through the stellium of the other three planets, and moving away in April. Fig. 2 shows Mars’ path for the whole year, overlaid on the March monthly chart, the thick solid path ranging from black at the center (which would be Jan 1) to red at the rim (end of year 2020). Now could it be the COVID-19 virus outbreak could be related to that transit? We know that Saturn and Mars are traditional malefics, and perhaps Jupiter is amplifying their energies for bad as well as good? And Pluto…well, that’s a difficult planet and I sort of think of it as “20th century problems” (well now 21st of course.)

Fig. 1 Longitudes of the planets Feb-Apr 2020 (beginning of month at center of circle, end of month at outer rim)

If the peak and decline of the pandemic tracks that transit, I think it would be very interesting. 

Fig. 2 Paths of planets in March 2020, overlaid with Mars’ path for the entire year as a thick line, colored from black to red

The obvious thing to do now is to check with another major pandemic and see if there are any obvious parallels. The first one that comes to mind is the great 1918 pandemic (“Spanish flu”–it probably actually originated at a British military facility in northern France).

It would have been amazing to report that there were parallels of planetary positions between that outbreak but on a quick check I didn’t see any. Below shows the positions of the planets at the peak of the pandemic in October 1918.

Now COVID-19 and that pandemic have many differences, but at the moment I don’t see any obvious parallels at a first approximation. In terms of slower planets, there is a nice opposition between Uranus and Saturn in early 1918 which starts separating around June.

I hope you are well and happy, and in the best of mental and spiritual health!

Let me take this opportunity to thank the outstanding astrology site Astro-Seek (, who provided the tools I used to generate those fantastic ephemeris wheels, which are used with their permission.

from grandpa’s attic

2020-08-23 update Well, now in 2020 I have to report that a lot of this stuff found its way to some different places. Much to my chagrin, one of the things I got rid of was a nice copy of the Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster which I thought I’d never be interested in examining deeper, but due to my trip this year to the occult booksellers’ I did get interested in it. Of all the thousands of things I have retained, and the few things I was willing to let go of, I guess it was inevitable that something like this would happen.

Fortunately the Chaldean Oracles are long in the public domain and some of the better occult/magical/spiritual websites that archive tons of old manuscripts and books had a decent version of it.

When Grandfather (? – 2018) passed away, his house was still occupied so no one took much effort going through it for his effects. But since then we’ve discovered a big trove of souvenirs, collectibles, and papers; letters, notes, diaries and journals, stories, poems and song lyrics.

So this site is going to be a record of continuing excavations of Grandpa’s impedimentia, incunabula, and ephemera.

About 20 pounds of his collections of occult, magic, ufology and general crackpot literature has already been donated to a special collection at UCSB. However there are lots of items left and hopefully someone will find some of them interesting. I don’t think Gramps would look kindly on me dumpstering this stuff so I’m at least going to make it available to interested parties for essentially free.

However, I’m certainly not going to pay to ship it to anyone, but will send it to anyone who will cover my postage costs.

If a particular item has not found a home after a reasonable amount of time them the implication is that it isn’t worth anything to anyone and I guess I will then feel justified in discarding/recycling them.

The topics covered will include alchemy, astrology, travel, art, literature, skepticism, religion, history, crackpots, UFOlogy, science, occultism, cryptanalysis, electronic music synthesis and production, algorithmic composition, woodworking, homesteading, humor, history, bibliophilia, and a million other short-lived obsessions.

It’s going to take some time to scan and catalog these items, so please be patient.  Or maybe I won’t scan them and just list them and see if anyone is interested.

I was thinking about my old friend the Maester L. He had a small but choice collection of rare and valuable books on history, magic, and occultism. I asked him if he ever thought he should make provisions that the books go to somewhere worthy should he pass away. He said, “From my point of view, I could care less.” Maybe that’s a healthier way to look at things.

Title page of “Lifespan”

Not an auspicious beginning when the TITLE PAGE has the author’s name spelled wrong! (This is the UK edition with the ISBN ending 8032-8)

Things I saw on my walk, part 3

Click on an image if it’s too small and a full screen version can be viewed. Today I learned there are several miles of semi-hidden trails to explore just a couple miles drive from my house. Looking forward to exploring all those! Last modified 2020-05-18

Things I saw on my walk, part 2

What’s funny is that even when I take the same route, I see different stuff. Here’s my finds from 13 May 2020 (and some older ones too). Last modified 2020-05-18

That’s just sloppy, or, the etymology of “jinx”

“Jinx” is a word it seems you don’t hear very often anymore. Fortunately, Google has a way to investigate that! There’s a tool called Google Ngram which shows the occurrence of a particular word or phrase in literature over time.

Using Ngram (the green line), you can see that the use of “jinx” in English has not changed much over the last century. Now you’ll notice that around 1940, suddenly the use seems to increase greatly. Well, it turns out there was a Hollywood star named Jinx Falkenburg, nicknamed “Jinx” by her mother, whose modeling and acting career began to take off in the late 1930s. Once she became more famous, other women named their girls “Jinx”, and between that and mentions of the original Jinx, that usage became higher (the red line in the Ngram chart). [Jinx Falkenburg died in 2003.]

Well, seeing a lot of references to Iynges and the Jynx bird in old esoteric writings, I decided I would find out the origin of the term “jinx” and how it was related to those Latin and Greek terms.

I spent money on a book called “The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology”. (Not in order to look up “jinx”; I thought it would be a good reference to have.] So, great, I have this venerable reference right on my shelf. Under “jinx” it reads

“(U.S.) person or thing that brings bad luck. XX. Of unknown origin.”

The “XX” indicates the century in which the first use of the word was recorded.

Well, that’s sort of B.S.; it’s not that simple. The term was used in early 20th century baseball slang and did refer to a superstition that would cause a player or a team bad luck. So we have to turn to other sources.

The Online Etymology Dictionary gives: “wryneck,” 1640s, from Modern Latin jynx (plural jynges), from Latin iynx (see jinx). As “a charm or spell,” 1690s.

The wryneck was a bird used anciently in divination. Its name, and probably its use in fortunetelling, derived from its ability to turn its head around 180 degrees. The wrynecks (genus Jynx) are a small but distinctive group of small Old World woodpeckers. Jynx is from the Ancient Greek iunx, the Eurasian wryneck. We all know “J” is a weird letter in English, that’s a subject for other peoples’ blogs.

I wanted to look it up in my Websters Third but that’s got a huge stack of junk piled on it that I’m afraid to try to move.

This entry might change over the years but as of 2021 Oct 19 this is what it is.

Things I saw on my walk, part 3

Click on an image if it’s too small and a full screen version can be viewed. Today I learned there are several miles of semi-hidden trails to explore just a couple miles drive from my house. Looking forward to exploring all those!

Nobody expects the M. of S. W.
Was hoping to audition for the Minister, but he was otherwise occupied.

Last modified 2020-05-18

Things I saw on my walk, part 2

What’s funny is that even when I take the same route, I see different stuff. Here’s my finds from 13 May 2020 (and some older ones too).

Last modified 2020-05-18

Lodge 49 notes


Equally so, I am dejected and disheartened that this series has been cancelled by AMC. Although as I mention below, it’s hardly a surprise.

The second season has been as big a joy as the first. On top of that, executive producer Paul Giamatti stepped into the weird, wonderful universe of Lodge 49 as bizarre potboiler author L. Marvin Metz. The writing has been as sharp and challenging as before, yielding laughs and incredulous gasps in equal measure.

It’s a pity it hasn’t won any major awards, (it did win a best comedy series “Satellite Award” in 2019), because that might have given a boost to its potential resurrection on a streaming service. In any case, the producers have said they see a 4 season arc, which I personally like to see, which avoids the Walking Dead syndrome.

If you haven’t seen it and have a Hulu subscription, check it out and see if it talks to you.


I was astounded and delighted that this series has been renewed. I had to go over and check at to make sure. I need to send AMC an email as well to let them know at least one more person is really happy about this.

After watching each episode (I did it one week at a time (on DVR of course, AMC is really commercial hell) I felt a little melacholy since I could scarcely imagine it being renewed, which would have been a pity since the characters and story line are very engaging.

I’ve studied esoteric subjects for a long, long time and just sat there with my mouth hanging open at certain of the events. I’ve never watched a fictional TV series in my life that even seriously touched on ideas of hermetic philosophy, alchemy, Freemasony, and Rosicrucianism.

Like anyone else, I usually enthusiastically recommend shows that I like to friends, but in this case, I didn’t (except of course my friend who is a professional astrologer and has studied these subjects even more deeply than myself.)

But the important thing to realize is that the esoteric aspect, while a crucial part of the scenario, and quietly pervasive in the story, is not the main story. I would say just off the top of my head that its major themes would be family, friendship, acceptance with grace, and having hope in a life with little hope.


Wow…we’re ending the second season of this gem of a show. The actors are stretching out and the writers are continuing an extremely high level of quality. Will it be renewed for a third season? So far I haven’t seen any indication.

Any show I really love is killed off fairly early in its run–People of Earth, Emerald City, Penny Dreadful–so I am fully prepared for the same fate for Lodge 49. But in a way, the thing that makes it precious is also the thing that sharply limits its audience…so I am just enjoying it for what it is and perhaps there will be a nice annotated DVD set of the series after it is killed off.

2018 update

Gallery 2 was just added with a couple dozen quick snapshots of a range of the ephemera in the collection. We basically want to put this all together in one big lot to see if anyone wants it. We hate to just throw it all away after someone spent a long time collecting all these items. Perhaps there is a library or research entity that could make use of them.

If you’re interested or know anyone who is, email us at:

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