Yin Yang V
They lived in the Valley of Sign where signs were taken seriously,
not road signs,
but the other kind of signs.
“I’ve been hearing sirens every time I walk into the office.”
“I hear them every time I begin to work.”
“Same thing’s happening to me.”
“It’s a sign.”
“A sign of what?”
“We should ask the king.”
Travellers by Erica Lambertson
The king was a casual sort of king, often seen strolling about town. They spotted him and went up to him and told him about the sirens. The king listened attentively, and when he was about to speak, sirens silenced him. He raised his voice and said,
“Why don’t you come over to the castle for dinner.”
Castle of Sign by Liz Cosma
Around the dinner table, the king said that before he was king, nobody paid attention to signs.
“If someone was about to sign a contract and the pen was out of ink, they didn’t see it as a sign to read the contract more closely. They simply went and got another pen.”
“Do you think the sirens want us to change jobs,” they asked him.
“Would you prefer to have other jobs,” he asked them.
“I don’t mind my job.”
The king leaned back in his chair and gave it some thought. “That’s the problem with these kind of signs,” he said. “They’re not clear cut like road signs. They’re-“
“Intuitive,” said Caldera, the king’s daughter.
Caldera by Anton Remnev
She reached for a deck of cards and began to shuffle.
“The next time you hear sirens,” she said, fanning the cards, “ask yourselves what they’re warning you about or calling you to do.”
She pulled a card and showed it to them.
The travel card by Michael Amofah
“That’s strange,” one of them said. “On our way here, I spoke about going somewhere, leaving the valley behind for some time, but nobody seemed enthused-“
“Where were you thinking of going,” she asked him.
“Anywhere,” he said, looking at her, and they heard sirens far away, and their eyes travelled together to the open window, and then met briefly before trumpets broke the connection between them.
Caldera threw her head back and laughed, “He always shows up when I pull the travel card!”
The door to the dining hall opened and the king rose, “Welcome my friend!”
El Cristo Negro walked in and brought with him his exotic scent of distant lands.
El Cristo Negro by John Edmonds
The king introduced him to his guests and told him what had brought them round the table.
“I’m not surprised,” the black knight said. “The Valley of Sign begins with a siren.”
“It does?” Caldera asked.
“Before your father was king,” said the knight, “the valley was called Valley of S. Your father changed the name when he became king.”
He was just a young boy when he first heard a siren. He and a friend were looking for a good place to play jacks when they heard a siren coming from the river. They were drawn to the sound and made their way there, but couldn’t find the source. What they found instead was that the river bank was flat enough to play jacks.
Jacks by Linda Kelly
They sat down and your father went first. He scattered the jacks and tossed the ball to pick one up, and when the ball bounced, the siren gave a short yelp. It gave a short yelp each time the ball bounced when he played and when his friend played, and the whole thing delighted them.
They went back the following day and found criss-cross cracks, like the jacks, where they had played.
“We should tell your father,” said his friend, and they went and told the old king.
The boys led the old king and his chief engineer to the river bank, and the chief engineer said that the bank could collapse any moment. They needed to reinforce it. He turned to look at the boys playing jacks and said, “We’ll use jetty jacks.”
“It’s like a fairytale.”
“Did the siren ever yelp again when you played jacks?”
The king shook his head, “Never again.”
“I’ve never played jacks.”
“Where are the jetty jacks,” asked Caldera.
“We removed them a long time ago, when enough silt had built around them; we planted trees and laid down the large rocks you see all along the river. You can walk on those rocks for miles and miles-“
The king stopped and looked at the black knight and the black knight looked at the king.
“You’ve remembered something,” said Caldera.
“Before any of that happened, we went down the river to inspect the banks, and they were pretty worn out, and then we came to a place, a section of the river that seemed completely undisturbed, pristine; even the air was different; it was misty and quiet and we quieted down.”
“Like a sanctuary,” said the one who wanted to travel. Chris.
“A sanctuary we were never able to find again. But it showed us what to do to strengthen the banks.”
Sanctuary by Robert Bateman
They moved to the drawing room, and the king opened the balcony doors to a clear evening, and they stepped outside.
“What brings you here, old friend,” the king asked El Cristo.
“There’s trouble in your valley,” El Cristo replied. “A man by the name of Casselman has been rounding people up-“
“Casselman? He’s my brother!” another one said.
“But you’re Casselman.”
“You and your brother have the same name?”
“I’m Casselman II, the good twin,” he said. “My brother’s always rounding people up and causing trouble.”
“He says he wants a more practical king, a road sign king,” said El Cristo. “He says he can be that king, a king who runs his kingdom on a schedule and not on intuition.”
“What a dangerous thing to say!” said the real king. “He will draw the wrath of the gods, of Op-Pollo, Op-Maul, Op-Shiva, Op-Yoda, Fent-Op!”
“The god with the all-seeing eye.”
“An eye that can travel in a circle round his head.”
“An eye on tracks.”
“He’s Op-Pollo’s indigo child.”
“My little cousin, Oracle of Kemptville, speaks the words of the god Fent-Op,” another one said. “Well, he doesn’t really speak them, he signs them, because Fent-Op is a silent god.”
“And what’s your name, son,” the king asked him.
“Frédéric,” he said, “but everyone calls me Fred.”
The king then addressed El Cristo, “Is Bad Cass planning a rebellion? Does he want to dethrone me?”
“He’s planning a secession,” said El Cristo. “He says that he has found pristine lands to create a kingdom.”
“No!” cried the king, dropping to the ground.
The last one of them sat beside the king. Chiron was his name. He was carrying an orange sack, and from the sack he took a string pouch. He opened the pouch and let the jacks pour out, and the ball rolled, but the king caught it before it got away.
“You go first, sire,” he said, and the king scattered the jacks and tossed the ball, and when the ball bounced on the ground, a siren gave a short yelp, and the king laughed and cried and kept on playing, accompanied by the siren of his childhood.
Cracks on the bank by Peter Clarke
Caldera put her arms around the king and said, “It’s getting cold dad; let’s go back inside.”
They made themselves comfortable, and Caldera said that she wanted to go to Kemptville to meet the Oracle.
“I’ve never met an Oracle before. Will you come with me, Fred?”
“Of course,” he said.
“I’ll come with you too,” said Chris.
“What will you ask the Oracle,” the king wanted to know.
“Dad, I don’t think Casselman’s brother can create a kingdom in the sanctuary you once saw.”
“I looked and looked for it for years.”
“He may have entered that space like you did, but he may have a hard time finding it again. He may be searching for it right now. You should check on your brother, Cass.”
“I’ll go find him when the sun rises.”
“When you find him, tell him that I need to speak with him,” said the king.
“I will, your highness.”
“I’m going to ask the Oracle if the sanctuary is always there, or if it makes itself visible when it wants to,” said Caldera.
“The gods have the gift of invisibility,” said El Cristo, taking a puff of his cigar.
At sunrise, Cass got on his bike and went looking for his brother. He went looking in all the usual places, but he wasn’t there. He called his mom.
“Mom, when was the last time you spoke to my brother?”
“Couple of days ago. Is something wrong?”
“No, no. What did he say? Did he say where he was going?”
“He said that he wants to be a road sign king, and he may have found just the right place to establish his kingdom. I told him that I was sorry, but I wasn’t going to live there. I’ve been trusting my intuition for too long to start paying attention to road signs.”
“Did he say where this place was?”
“Down the river somewhere; he didn’t really specify. Maybe you should ask his girlfriend.”
“Who’s his girlfriend?”
“Cassandra. She’s painting a mural downtown.”
Cassandra turned around and screamed, “Where have you been! You’ve had me worried sick!”
She started coming down the ladder, but kept turning around to look at him, “Did you get a haircut? Why are you dressed like that?”
“Cassandra, I’m not Casselman, I’m his twin brother, Cass II.”
She took her hand to her forehead and shook her head, “What mother gives her children the same name; I just don’t understand it. Where’s your brother?”
“I came to ask you the same question. My mother thought you’d know.”
“He’s been missing for two days. We should go to the police.”
“Did he say where he was going?”
“Down the river to find a magical place he found once but was having trouble finding again.”
“You need to come with me.”
“To the castle.”
When they got to the castle, the castle guards said that everyone had left. The princess had gone on a pilgrimage with Fred and Chris, and Chiron had taken the king down the river at the king’s request.
“What about El Cristo?”
“He went to visit the King of OP and will be back this evening.”
“Could we borrow one of the king’s boats,” Cass asked them.
“Yes,” they said.
At sunrise, Caldera, Fred and Chris got on their bikes and headed to the Temple of Fent-Op.
“Tell me more about this god.”
“His eye shimmers when there’s imbalance, and glows as bright as a beacon when there’s great imbalance.”
“He’s a yin yang god; they all are.”
“But he’s watched over by the Op Trinity, favoured as he is by the great Op-Pollo.”
“I heard that when he’s happy, the light from his eye turns into music.”
“What makes him happy?”
A woman coming behind them rang her bicycle bell, and they lined up on the right to let her pass. Before passing them, she slowed down and said, “There’s a man on a donkey not far from here who sells trinkets. He may have jacks.”
“Thank you!” they said as she rode off.
“Why don’t we walk for a while?”
They got off their bikes and walked, and they saw the man on a donkey. They greeted him and asked him if he had jacks.
“I have used ones,” he said.
“We don’t mind,” they said. “How much?”
“No charge,” he said, handing them a string pouch. “You can give them back to me on your way home.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re pilgrims, right?”
“Thought so,” he said, turning his donkey around and going away.
“Oh!” said Fred. “I forgot! You have to play a game when you’re with the Oracle.”
They kept walking and the temple came into view.
When they reached the entrance, the attendant greeted Fred and asked him what brought him to Kemptville.
“The Princess of Sign wishes to see the Oracle,” said Fred.
The attendant led them inside, and the Oracle came running to meet Fred. Fred introduced him to Caldera and Chris, and told him that Caldera had come to tell a story and to ask the god Fent-Op a question.
“What game will you play,” the Oracle asked them.
“We brought jacks,” they said.
“That’s Op-Maul’s favourite game, but only if the ball is red.”
“What’s Fent-Op’s favourite game?”
“He likes jacks too, but only if the ball is colourful.”
Caldera opened the string pouch and prayed for there to be a colourful ball inside, and there was a colourful ball inside. She sighed with relief.
The Oracle saw the colourful ball and said, “Op-Maul will be angry.”
“Is there a way to appease Op-Maul’s anger?” she asked him.
“No,” said the Oracle. “The only way to appease Op-Maul is to give him what he wants.”
She looked worried and the attendant told her not to worry. He showed her and the others where to sit, and said that they could begin playing jacks, and that Caldera could begin her story.
The Oracle sat on a chair next to them. He closed his eyes and used both hands to turn his hat a full circle round his head.
The Oracle by Stephen Mangan
Caldera found that she couldn’t concentrate on the story while playing jacks. The story came out in fits and starts.
“Is it my turn? Okay. My father played jacks on the river bank- Oh no! I lost! It’s your turn, okay, so my dad went down the river to inspect the banks with his dad and the chief engineer, and they saw that the banks were eroded and needed- Is it my turn? Okay, wait. Where was I? The banks needed reinforcing. Oh no! The ball’s rolling away! Catch it! Attendant! We lost the ball!”
She lay on the ground and stretched her arm to reach the ball that had rolled under a bench, when she heard music, beautiful music.
“Fent-Op’s having a good time,” said Fred. “He’s enjoying the game.”
“He’s enjoying Caldera’s story,” said Chris. “Keep going Caldera.”
“Who’s turn is it? Yours? Again? You’re not cheating, are you? Where was I? Yes, yes, then suddenly, the air changed, and they came to a place that was unblemished, like a sanctuary. Don’t lose the ball! Thanks. My turn. My dad tried to find it again but couldn’t. I lost, here you go. And my question is whether the place is there, but invisible, and only visible sometimes, when it wants to be seen.”
Turning light into music by Remedios Varo
They put the game away and stayed where they were, listening to the music, until it faded.
When the Oracle opened his eyes, the attendant came to sit beside him. The Oracle rubbed his foot, scratched just below his knee, and signed with his hands. He then said that he was sleepy, and Fred walked with him to his place of rest in the temple.
When Fred came back, they went to sit on the temple steps.
“What did he say,” Caldera asked the attendant.
“He said that you tickled Fent-Op’s feet and made his knee jerk. He was so happy listening to you and watching you play that the light from his eye turned into music. It may not happen every time you come to the temple, and sometimes, it only happens once.”
“It was beautiful music.”
“We won’t forget it.”
They got up to leave and the temple grounds shook.
“What was that!”
The Oracle came running outside and pointed at the sky, “Op-Maul!”
They looked up and heard a rumble and saw a flash of red and black.
“Run!” said the Oracle.
They ran but a hand scooped them up and dropped them into a net, and up into the sky they went.
“He wants a red ball!”
“Show him the one we have!”
Caldera opened the pouch and wished that the ball was red, and when she looked inside, the ball was red.
“It’s red!” she said.
“Did it change colour?”
“I wished it to be red and it turned red!”
“Show it to him!”
Caldera held the ball up and said, “Op-Maul! Mighty god! We have a red ball!”
Op-Maul didn’t pay attention.
“He can’t see it! It’s too small!”
“Wish it to be big!”
Caldera looked at the ball and wished it to be big, and the ball got bigger. She wished it to be bigger than that, and the ball got bigger than that. She wished it to be as big as the net, and the ball got as big as the net and they were squooshed under.
Op-Maul began bouncing the net and the ball bounced up and down.
“I think he wants us to play jacks with the red ball.”
“Op-Maul! Mighty god! We’ll play jacks with the red ball if you put us down!”
“He’s flying down!”
“Start making the ball smaller, Caldera!”
Caldera wished the ball to be smaller and smaller until she could hold it in the palm of her hand.
They could see the Oracle on the ground below waving both arms, cross waving them and warning Op-Maul not to crash land them. They shut their eyes tight until they felt a touch; Op-Maul’s fingers taking them out of the net and putting them on the ground and making them sit. He flew back up when they started playing jacks with the red ball, and he watched them from above until a man on a donkey rode into the temple grounds.
Man on a donkey by Vladimir Grigoryan
The man got off the donkey and sat beside them, and they did not dare look up but bowed low to the god of magic, the god Op-Shiva. Op-Shiva took the jacks and the ball and said, You’ll see them again.
They saw them again on the way back to the castle.
A flock of crows chased them all the way.
“They’re not chasing us,” said Chris.
“They’re making us hurry,” said Fred.
They pedaled as fast as they could.
They heard sirens when they entered the Valley of Sign, but they weren’t playful sirens or sirens of longing.
“Something’s wrong,” said Caldera.
The castle guards were gathered by the river and El Cristo was among them. They were wearing life vests and getting on boats. A helicopter rose above them and flew down the river.
“Princess! Your father and Chiron have been gone all day. We’re going to go look for them.”
“We’re coming with you,” she said.
“Cass too has been gone all day,” they told her. “He went down the river with his brother’s girlfriend; said his brother had been missing for a couple of days.”
Chiron got up at sunrise and saw the king playing jacks on the balcony.
They had spent the night at the castle, and everyone had made plans for the following day, except him; his intuition told him not to.
He opened the balcony door to greet the king, and the suddenness of the movement gave the king such a fright that he tossed the ball too high and it went over the balcony railing.
The king stood up and looked over the railing and the siren howled.
“I’ll go look for it right away, your majesty,” said Chiron, but the king stopped him.
“You can look for it later, Chiron. I want you to come down the river with me.”
They got on a boat and travelled for a long time in silence. Then the king slowed down and said, “It’s here somewhere.”
“Look over there, your majesty,” said Chiron, pointing across the river. “Someone’s dragged their boat on that sandy patch next to the bank”. He could smell a campfire, and then he saw the smoke. “I think they’re roasting marshmallows.”
The king laughed, “I haven’t had marshmallows in years! Let’s go see who it is.”
He steered the boat toward the sandy patch, and there was enough room for Chiron to drag the boat next to the one already there. He helped the king out, and they climbed up the rocks and up the bank, and there was a man sitting by a campfire eating marshmallows.
Chiron looked at the man and thought, If he were wearing a blue bandana and a t-shirt, he’d look like Cass.
“Hello there,” said the king.
“Hello,” said the man.
“Those marshmallows smell good.”
“Grab some sticks and help yourselves,” said the man, holding up a bag.
Chiron grabbed a couple of sticks, and he and the king went to sit around the campfire.
“You camping out here,” Chiron asked him, putting a marshmallow at the end of each stick and holding them over the fire.
“I shouldn’t be here,” he said.”My girlfriend’s going to be worried sick. I was looking for a place, but I haven’t been able to find it and I didn’t want to give up.”
“What sort of place,” the king asked him, knowing now that he was Casselman’s twin.
Casselman turned around and took a painting out of his backpack and showed it to the king.
The king looked at it and thought, Here it is, at last. “It’s otherworldly,” he whispered.
“It’s as if the gods drew a curtain to show it to me once,” said Casselman.
“Would you be able to turn it into a mural?”
“I’m also looking for a road sign painter,” said the king, “someone who won’t clutter the valley with unnecessary signs, but will intuit where a sign is needed.”
Casselman was silent for a moment, knowing now that he was the king. “I’m your painter, your majesty,” he said.
“Here’s your marshmallow, sire,” said Chiron, and the king took the marshmallow and relished it.
They sat together, and a spot in the sky caught their eye, and they pointed at it, and the spot grew louder and louder.
“It’s a helicopter,” said Chiron.
“A search helicopter,” said Casselman.
“They must be looking for us,” said the king.
They put the campfire out and went to the sandy patch, and there were many boats on the water.
Crow up early by Alex Colville
They went back with the others; Casselman went with his girlfriend and his brother, and Chiron and the King with Chris, Fred and Caldera.
The king let Chiron relate all that happened, beginning with the balcony scene; how he had frightened the king; how the king had lost his jacks ball over the railing.
“What colour was the ball,” Caldera asked him.
“Red,” said Chiron. “I promised to look for it after the boat ride.”
“It’s too dark to look for it now; we’ll help you look for it in the morning.”
They docked the boats and went up the hill to the castle, and the castle guards went ahead of them. They heard the castle guards get agitated.
“There’s something blocking the entrance!”
“Flash a light on the entrance!”
“What on earth is that!”
The sky rumbled, and Chris, Fred and Caldera ran the rest of the way to see what was happening.
“What is it,” they asked the guards, and the guards showed them.
“It’s a big red ball blocking the entrance to the castle.”
The sky rumbled again, and they heard someone laugh, “Haha! Haha!”
“Op-Maul!” everyone cried.
“Daughter!,” said the king, rushing to her side. “What happened in Kemptville that you awakened the god of mischief!”
“The god is always awake, your highness,” said El Cristo who had rushed with him. “They’ve just caught his attention.”
Chiron was examining the ball, “Sire, could this be your jacks ball?”
“What!” said the king, taking a closer look.
“Maybe the god found it and left it here for you.”
Cassandra burst out laughing when she reached the castle and saw the ball, and her laughter broke the tension.
They watched the guards wiggle and jiggle the ball, until they managed to squeeze it out of the entrance. As soon as the ball was free, it began to deflate, and it didn’t stop deflating until it was the right size to play jacks.
“Chiron! You were right!’ said the king, picking it up.
They walked inside the castle and Caldera walked beside Casselman, “We heard you were planning a secession-“
The king came between them and suggested they all go freshen up and meet around the table.
Around the table, Fred told of their journey to Kemptville, and Chris told of what happened inside the temple. He showed them the signs the Oracle made and explained what they meant. He then looked at Caldera, and when Caldera was about to speak, they heard sirens.
There are things not meant to be spoken.
The sirens stopped, and Caldera said that they cycled back to the valley after that, and they got here in time to join the guards going down the river.
“What about Op-Maul,” the king asked her.
“When we got to the temple, the Oracle wanted to know the game we were going to play, and we said jacks. He said that jacks is Op-Maul’s favourite game, but only if the ball is red. It’s Fent-Op’s favourite game when the ball is colourful.”
“What colour was your ball?”
“You angered the mighty Op-Maul,” said the king.
“We were in the Temple of Fent-Op, dad. If we had played with a red ball, we may not have heard his music.”
The king was looking at her and she saw his eyes lose focus, and she knew he was trying to figure something out.
“Where did you get your game of jacks,” El Cristo asked her.
“From a trinket man we met on the way.”
“Ah,” said El Cristo. He then turned his attention to Casselman, “Why don’t you tell us about yourself.”
“Me? I’m a free spirit-“
“Drives me crazy,” said Cassandra. “He wanders off a lot.”
“I let my intuition guide me, but the problem is that my intuition doesn’t know how to guide me back, and I get lost.”
“Is that why you wanted to be a road sign king,” Chiron asked him.
“Yes, and a lot of people who have the same problem encouraged me. We decided to create a kingdom with clear cut signs to give us direction.”
“Why didn’t you come talk to me about it,” asked the king. “I’m the casual sort of king.”
“Because each time I’d think about it, I would hear sirens.”
“Oh,” said the king.
“We decided to look for a piece of land we could take possession of, unused land. Four of us went down the river, but one doesn’t count.”
“She was distracted; always playing the game you keep talking about, jacks. She said that she needed to practise for a tournament.” He paused for a moment, remembering something, “I once saw her ball fall into the water, but it didn’t sink or float. It touched the surface and bounced right back into her hand.”
“Casselman! You never told me!” said Cassandra.
“I just remembered. I guess I blocked it because it went against the laws of gravity.”
The king’s jaw dropped and he dropped his fork and covered his face with his hands.
“Daddy, are you alright!”
They all rose to attend to the king.
Drop by Emilio Alberti
They moved to the drawing room, and the king lay down on the couch. He said that the ball he and his friend played with on the river bank was red, the colour that the mighty Op-Maul favours.
When they found cracks on the bank and went to tell his father the old king, he lost the red ball.
His friend gave him his, and he played with his friend’s ball when they travelled down the river to inspect the banks; the bottom of the boat was flat enough for him to play. The ball fell into the water once, and bounced right back into his hand. He never spoke about it because, how could he speak about it? It defied the laws of gravity.
A door slammed, and El Cristo jumped out of his chair.
“It’s just the wind, old friend,” the king reassured him.
“The sound of a door slamming frightens me,” said El Cristo. “It brings back memories of a woman I once knew.”
He sat back down and another door slammed, and another and another-
A guard came running, “We hear it too, your highness. We’re in the process of investigating.”
“Is an investigation necessary?”
“Yes, your highness,” he said, walking to the balcony and opening the balcony doors. “There’s no wind tonight.” He gestured at the clear sky, and the balcony doors slammed.
Everyone jumped up.
“You can continue with your investigation,” the king told the guard.
Starry night by Vincent van Gogh
“This is so cool,” said Cass. “A haunted castle.”
“Haunted by a woman,” said Casselman. “Cassandra slams doors whenever she’s upset.”
“I know someone who does that too, said the king, looking at his daughter. He noticed that his daughter was holding hands with Chris. She put a finger on her lips, warning her dad not to say anymore.
Chris pretended not to notice. He asked the king, “What did your friend’s ball look like, your majesty?”
The king thought back; he cupped his hand and held an imaginary ball, bigger than the red one. “There was something particular about it,” he said.
“There was something particular about the ball the woman practised with on the boat, said Casselman.
“It wasn’t colourful like a marble,” asked Caldera.
“No,” they said.
Jacks and marbles by Joyce K. Jensen
The guard came back and announced that the doors had stopped slamming.
The king got up and said, “Let’s see.”
He asked the guard to hold the balcony doors open while he stepped outside, and the guard held them open. The king looked at the clear sky, the starry night, and in a voice that could be heard inside, said, “The ball had stars.”
“That’s it,” said Casselman in a voice that could be heard outside. “It was a clear ball with stars inside.”
The guard let go of the doors, held his hands together and said, “Op-Cyprus.”
“Are stars her symbol,” the king asked him.
“I don’t know, but there’s a painting in my house of her holding a crystal ball with stars.”
“Remind me your name-“
“I go by Jam, your highness.”
“Why don’t you join us, Jam.”
Jam joined them and the king asked him to tell them what he knew about the goddess.
“She swims just beneath the surface of the water, and when she’s tender, she rises gently to the surface. But when she’s fierce, she breaks through the surface. She can be tender and she can be fierce,” he said.
“I’ve heard that she can make us fall in love,” said Cassandra.
“I’ve heard that too,” said Caldera.”She casts a spell and paints everything beautiful until we fall in love.”
“What happens when the spell wears off?”
“If it’s true love, we will love the imperfections.”
“She gets along with all the gods,” Jam continued. “She can soften them and she can enhance them.”
“How does she enhance Op-Maul?”
“She kindles his fire,” he said.
They heard a snore and saw that Fred had fallen asleep.
“Why don’t you spend the night in the castle and I’ll see you in the morning,” said the king.
At breakfast, Casselman asked, “How did it all begin?”
Cass told him how it all began with sirens.
“I don’t think so,” said Fred. “I think it began with an imbalance; Fent-Op detected an imbalance.”
“An imbalance of signs,” said El Cristo. “It was causing people like you Casselman to want something different.”
“How did you find out about Casselman,” Caldera asked El Cristo.
“From the woman who played jacks on Casselman’s boat. She was late for the tournament.”
“You were in the tournament?”
“I was the arbiter.”
“Small world,” said Jam who had joined them for breakfast.
“Have you been caught up with the story, Jam,” the king asked him.
“Yes, your highness. Cass told me all about it.”
“Jam has a theory,” said Cass.
“Let’s hear it,” said the king.
“When you played jacks with the starry ball, your highness, Op-Cyprus cast a spell and painted the sanctuary. She made you fall in love with your valley. She did the same thing to Casselman, through the woman who practised with the starry ball.”
“Makes perfect sense,” said Chiron.
“I love my valley,” said the king, wiping tears from his eyes, “and it’s true that my love for it began with the sanctuary.”
A door slammed,
a siren yelped,
and the lights on the chandelier flickered.
“My guess is that the gods want us to play jacks,” said Cassandra.
When they had a red ball, a colourful ball and a starry ball, they divided themselves into three groups and sat on the balcony floor to play jacks.
They became engrossed in the game.
They lost track of time.
The sun was beginning to set when they heard a rumble in the sky and they looked up.
“Is that a woodpecker?”
“It’s not a woodpecker.”
It was the mighty Op-Maul flying over the river. He was holding a net, and in the net was a giant red ball.
They heard music, and Op-Maul tossed the ball up, and when the ball hit the water below, it bounced back and Op-Maul caught it in his net.
The gods were playing to the rhythm of the music.
‘It’s getting dramatic.”
“It matches the sunset; look at all the colours.”
The ball began to bounce higher, challenging Op-Maul, and the mighty god rose higher to catch it.
The surface of the river broke, and they held their breath.
Op-Cyprus by Eleni Nikologlou
The sun was beginning to set and Faro made his way to the castle. He was a castle guard, working the night shift. He had worked the night shift the night before, the night of the door slamming.
He shook his head thinking about it. There had been no logic behind it, no earth tremors, no wind. God logic.
He became aware of music. What a melodious evening, he thought, and he wondered where the music was coming from. It seemed to come from the sun, the colours of the sunset. He was walking along the river and he saw the water surge, and held his breath.
Faro by Liz Cosma
She was reaching up, and he looked up and saw the mighty Op-Maul. The goddess and the god met in the sky and water and fire turned to smoke.
“Alchemy,” he heard someone say.
He turned and found Sol beside him.
Sol by Stephen Mangan
“When the goddess and the god meet, new relationships and creations are fertilized,” she said.
They walked up the hill leading to the castle together, and when they were almost there, he told her to go ahead; he’d catch up with her.
“Why? What are you going to do?”
“Pray to the god Fent-Op.”
“The god that detects imbalances?”
“I’ll pray with you. What’s the ritual?”
“Extend your arms in front of you, palms up. Now take small steps in place, but turning 360 degrees.”
“Oh; like his eye that goes around his head in circles-“
Circles by Wassily Kandinsky
“His eye glows like a beacon when there’s an imbalance, and your name means beacon.”
“That’s why he’s my favourite god,” said Faro. He looked at her and said her name, “Sol, named after the sun, god of life, god of music. There’s music when he’s happy.”
“There’s music when Fent-Op’s happy.”
“Let’s pray to the sun before he sets. What’s the ritual?”
“Open your arms wide and skip and hop and glide in a big circle!”
Toucan by David Tomlin
They were laughing by the time they closed the circle.
The last ray of light caught the railing of the king’s balcony and Faro glanced up and grew tense.
“Your majesty! Princess! Go back inside! There’s a problem with the balcony!”
The king and Caldera went back inside, and Faro and Sol ran to the castle to get the chief engineer. They went with him to inspect the balcony.
Something on the balcony floor caught the engineer’s attention, and he knelt down to take a closer look. “Criss cross cracks!” he exclaimed. “King! Do you remember?”
“I remember,” said the king, kneeling beside him. “The last time we saw them was on the river bank. You made me go tell my father.”
“You lost your red ball on the way. Did you ever find it?”
“No,” said the king, and they heard a thump. They looked up and saw a giant red ball drop from the sky and land on the balcony.
“What’s that,” the engineer asked the king.
“A giant red ball,” said the king.
The ball began to deflate, and it didn’t stop deflating until it was just the right size to play jacks. It rolled toward the engineer and he picked it up.
“God logic,” he said.
“The logic of the god of mischief,” said the king.
“Aye,” said the king.
The engineer bounced the ball on the balcony floor, and he was surprised to hear the siren’s yelp of so long ago. He bounced the ball on the drawing room floor, and the siren didn’t yelp.
“The yelp could be a structural warning,” he told the king.
“I didn’t realize it.”
“Tell you what; I’ll repair the balcony, then you and I will play jacks like old times with this ball. If we don’t hear the siren yelp-“
“I’ll know you’re a better engineer than I thought,” said the king, joking with his childhood friend.
When the engineer left, the king focused his attention on Faro and Sol.
“Now, who was it that noticed the balcony wasn’t safe?”
“I did, your majesty,” said Faro.
“How did you know?”
“It couldn’t have wobbled; we would have felt it,” said Caldera.
“Maybe it was a trick of the light,” said Faro.
“Yes,” said El Cristo, and he then changed the subject. “We saw you praying to the god Fent-Op from the balcony. I’d like you to meet Fred. His little cousin is the Oracle of Kemptville.”
He then introduced Faro and Sol to the rest of the group.
“They’re going to be walking the roads of the valley,” said the king, “They’re going to help Casselman establish where road signs are needed. It’s something new we’re introducing. You should join them and stop by Kemptville to meet the Oracle.”
“Do you play jacks?”
“No,” said Sol.
“No way,” said Faro. “I can’t sit still for that game. I’d much rather bounce a ball.”
“Bring your ball because you need to play a game when you meet the Oracle.”
Boy with a blue ball by Jeff Koons
The day they were ready to leave, they gathered at the entrance of the castle.
“My son’s coming with you,” said El Cristo.
“You have a son?”
“He lives with his mother on the main road; he’s waiting outside. His name’s Kehinde.”
“My son’s joining you too,” said the chief engineer. “His name’s Red. He’s keeping an eye out for you with Kehinde.”
“Red? I know him,” said Cassandra. “I designed his tattoo-“
“You’re responsible for that? It’s changed his life,” said the engineer. “He’s more confident; walks a little taller.”
They said their goodbyes and made their way to the main road.
“Cassy!” Red called Cassandra and hurried over.
“It’s good to see you Red!”
Red by Ah Xian
“Hi, I’m Kehinde.”
Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
They walked the main road getting to know each other, taking turns bouncing Faro’s ball. He’d bounce it, then Sol, Cass, Casselman, Cassandra, Chiron, Fred, Red, Kehinde-
“Everyone except Chris and Caldera who’ve been holding hands since we left the castle.”
The main road divided into three and they stopped at the crossroads, doing what the people of Sign do, intuiting which way was the best way to go.
They heard laughter coming from the river. There were children swimming in the water, and an older boy watched over them from the river bank. He turned to look at them.
“Can you tell us where these roads lead to,” Chris asked him.
The river boy laughed and said, “Anywhere.” He saw Faro’s blue ball and got up, “Throw it to me! Let’s play catch!” He raised his arms and caught the ball and threw it back, and they played back and forth until someone didn’t catch the ball and it rolled on the road to the left.”
“That’s where you should go,” he said.
They walked on the left road, more quiet this time, and again, the road divided into three and they stopped at the crossroads.
Again they heard laughter coming from the river, and they saw the river boy on the river bank. He turned around and said, “Throw me the ball! Let’s play catch!”
They played back and forth until someone didn’t catch the ball and it rolled on the road in the middle.
“That’s where you should go,” he said.
They walked on the middle road, even more quiet than before, whispering to each other.
“Did you see his golden curls?”
“The river boy? I thought he was wearing a hat.”
“He put the hat on before he turned to look at us, and it changed his appearance-“
“It toned him down.”
“He could be one of Op-Pollo’s children.”
They came to a stop when the middle road divided into three.
This time the river boy did not turn around. The only road left to go on was the one on the right.
River boy by Henry Scott Tuke
They walked on the right road and arrived somewhere.
“Princess! What took you so long!” they heard a woman say.
“We came across three crossroads,” Caldera explained.
“How? The castle is over there,” she pointed behind them.
They turned around and saw the castle on the hill in the distance, and the main road leading directly to where they were.
“We’re the neighbourhood closest to the castle of Sign,” she said, and then paused for a moment. “You must have met the god with the golden curls, playful child of Op-Pollo.”
“He wanted to play catch,” said Faro, bouncing his ball.
“He made his uncle Op-Maul jealous. Look what happened today,” she pointed all around her, and all around her were giant red balls stuck between buildings and blocking entrances.
“It’s because someone doesn’t want to play jacks, his favourite game,” said Red. “A giant red ball blocked the entrance to my bedroom when I didn’t want to play jacks.”
“I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to play jacks in this neighbourhood. Maybe it’s one of you,” said the woman.
“Did I cause this,” asked Faro
“You and me,” said Sol
“You better sit down and play,” said Red.
They sat down to play and Sol went first. Faro watched her and grew silent and distant. When Sol lost and called his name, he didn’t respond. Something told her not to insist and not to touch him, to wait until he came to himself.
“I thought you said you couldn’t sit still to play jacks, and it’s like you fell into a trance,” she said
“I had a vision,” he said. “People playing jacks in a temple.”
“In the past.”
“What was it like?”
“I think it was a ritual.”
“You have to tell the others, but first you need to plays jacks.”
He played, and the giant red balls began to deflate.
When they sat down to eat, he told the others about his vision.
“It’s the influence of the curly haired god,” said the woman. “He’s the god of places that lie between neighbourhoods and valleys, places in between where there are roads and crossroads, where we’re on our way somewhere. He’s also the god of places we cannot get to, like the past, like the future, and he shows them to us through visions.”
“What’s his name?”
“The children of Op-Pollo don’t have names, except for Fent-Op.”
“They could grow powerful if they had names,” said Kehinde. “They could challenge the Op-Trinity.”
“Hi everyone,” said Casselman, joining them at the table.
“Casselman! Where were you?”
“He was painting his first sign,” said Cassandra.
“Someone asked me for a No Balls Allowed sign.”
“We’ll go see it in the morning, before we leave.”
“Will you be heading somewhere this morning, princess, or will you be rambling,” the woman asked Caldera.
“I thought I’d ask-” She looked around, “Where’s Casselman?”
“He’s dislodging a giant red ball he found under his sign,” said Cass. “The person who asked him to paint it can’t get inside their building.”
Casselman appeared holding the sign, “I guess this wasn’t a good idea,” he said.
“Where would you like to go today, Casselman,” Caldera asked him.
“Let’s go see the Oracle,” he said. “Faro can ask about the vision he had.”
“I know the way,” say Fred.
On the way there, Faro kept disappearing whenever they heard laughter.
“He’s looking for the river boy,” said Chiron.
“It may have been the kind of encounter we only have once,” said Casselman. “Can we stop here? I’d like to paint a sign.”
He painted, and Faro sat beside him when he rejoined the group.
“Did you find him,” Casselman asked him.
“No,” said Faro. “I recognize his laughter and I- I almost see him, but he slips away.”
“He must have a task for you.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He’s not letting you forget him, and he brought you a vision.”
“Of people playing jacks in a temple.”
“Whose temple was it,” Chiron asked him.
“There was a statue, but I’d have to go back and see it.”
“We’ll have to play jacks again,” said Sol.
Casselman put the sign up and they walked in the direction of the sign.
For the first time since they left the neighbourhood closest to the castle, Faro bounced his blue ball. Sol took it from him and bounced it, and Faro took it from her. They played, until the ball rolled away and they chased it.
A man sitting on a blanket with trinkets spread out in from of him caught it. He held it up for them to see, and when they were close enough, threw it back to them.
“Thank you,” they said.
“I have a statue with a ball of the same colour,” he said.
“Could I see it,” Faro asked, coming up to him.
The man opened a suitcase and took the statue out. “It’s a copy of an ancient statue of a goddess with curly hair.”
“Most likely. It’s a decorative piece, but it also has a function. It’s used to keep a ball snug between the folds of her robe and her thigh. You can pull the ball out and play jacks with it.
Faro pulled the ball out and held it in the palm of his hand. He looked at the man and his eyes were of the same colour. Faro bowed and knelt down, like Sol did beside him. A wind wrapped around them, and when it was still again, Faro looked up and the man was gone.
“Op-Shiva,” he whispered.
He looked at his hands and saw the statue in one and the jacks ball in the other, but his bouncing ball-
“I have it,” she said.
Gazing ball by Jeff Koons
The group sat in a circle and passed the statue around.
“She’s not Op-Cyprus,” said Cassandra.
“She’s a red herring,” said Red
“Maybe all it’s doing is giving Faro a blue ball to play jacks with,” said Kehinde. “It’s your favourite colour, isn’t it, Faro?”
“It’s a trick,” said Cass.
“Don’t play with it or you’ll make the mighty Op-Maul jealous,” said Fred.
The ball dropped from the statue and rolled to Faro.
“Play,” said Casselman, giving him jacks.
Faro scattered the jacks and began to play.
“Why don’t you like it,” Caldera asked him, feeling his reluctance.
“It’s immobile,” he said.
“It takes discipline,” said Red.
“Skill,” said Chiron.
“But there’s also an element of chance. Once you toss the ball up, it’s out of your hands,” said Sol
Faro tossed the ball up and it didn’t come back down.
They looked up and two mighty hands grabbed them and tossed them inside a giant net and up into the sky they went.
“Hold on tight!”
“Haha! Haha! Op-Maul laughed, and they felt his surprise when a voice called him.
“Hey uncle Maul!”
Op-Maul turned toward the voice and let go of the net and the net fell from the sky.
“We’re free falling!”
An invisible hand grabbed the handle of the net and gently placed it on the ground, at the entrance of the Temple of Fent-Op.
The attendant was praying outside, hands extended in front of him, palms up, when he felt something land on one of them. He opened his eyes and saw a blue jacks ball, and further down, a group of people waiting to go inside the temple. He recognized Fred.
“Fred! Back so soon! Your little cousin will be happy to see you. Is this yours,” he asked him, handing him the ball.
“It’s Faro’s. He’s come to see the Oracle.”
“You’ll have to duck to get inside the temple,” the attendant said, climbing up the steps. He shook his head and pointed up, “What are the chances of two balls falling from the sky in one morning. It’s a sign that Op-Pollo’s playful child is around, asking for a name.”
“The river boy?”
“You saw him?”
“He was sitting on a rocky bank of the river.”
“He’s always seen sitting on a rock, a herma, and from the herma, he gives direction or misdirection. He’s been asking the Op-Trinity for a name since he was born. His birth surprised his father-“
“He popped out of the great Op-Pollo’s head with laughter. He didn’t make the same sound the other children made when they were born.”
“Neither did Fent-Op.”
“Fent-Op was given a name; the river boy wasn’t.”
“Op-Herm,” said Faro.
“Sounds like a cough,” said Sol. “Make it smoother.”
“You’re going to get us into trouble for naming a god,” said Kehinde.
The Oracle asked Faro if he was going to play with his bouncing ball and Faro said that he was.
They all stood around the Oracle, and he sat on a chair, closed his eyes, and turned his hat a full circle round his head.
“You can begin,” the attendant told Faro.
Faro bounced the ball and Sol took it from him, “Already? But it was helping me organize my thoughts. Thanks. Okay. Oh no, Cass, give it back. You’re right, I’ll get it back. Wait! Where was I? I haven’t even started? I had a vision! Sol was playing jacks and I fell into a trance. Oh no, you’re not getting it this time. Red, it’s mine! What have I said so far? Okay, so I found myself in a temple and there were people playing jacks. I’ll get it! I’m not going there. I’m staying right here so that I can concentrate. It felt like I was looking at a ritual. No, you won’t! This is crazy, there’s too many of us! No, no, I like you all. I can talk without the ball, but I prefer to have it when I’m talking. Thanks. Before the vision, we came across Op-Hermes-“
Thunderbolts silenced them.
“Trouble,” whispered Kehinde.
“It could mean, Carry on,” whispered Red.
“Should I?” whispered Faro.
“Why don’t you say the same sentence using ‘river boy’ instead of you know what,” whispered Kehinde.
“Good idea. Before the vision, we came across the river boy-“
The earth shook.
“Better skip that part,” said Red.
“I don’t want to skip it,” said Faro. “I want to ask the gods permission to call the river boy Op-Hermes.”
They heard music.
“Sounds like permission is granted,” said Red.
They sat on the ground to listen to the music, except Faro who kept bouncing the ball. “I don’t think we can bring in road signs without the god of the roads. I think he’ll open up a whole new dimension. A woman told me that he brought me the vision I had. What does it mean? Whose temple was it? “
Sol scattered jacks and began to play with the statue’s ball, and Faro sat to watch her play, and he grew silent and distant. When the music faded, she stopped playing and waited for him to come to himself. He came to himself at the same time the Oracle did.
“Most unusual,” said the attendant.
The Oracle and Faro looked at each other; they had both seen the temple.
“It has many statues,” Faro said, “but it belongs to one god.”
The Oracle picked up a jacks and held it up.
“The knobs project from a common base,” said Faro. “It’s the temple of Op-Yoda, the god who separated the Op-Trinity when they fell in love.”
The Oracle picked up the statue of the goddess with curly hair.
“Every time a child of the gods is born, a statue is added to the temple in the heavens. In this temple, Op-Yoda plays jacks with the children and tells them stories of the gods. He begins by scattering the jacks and says, Chaos! Then he tosses the ball and picks up the jacks one by one and says that Op-Pollo brings order to the chaos.”
The Oracle pointed at Faro.
“The statue that Op-Hermes showed me was his statue. Name me, he said.”
Op-Hermes by Gerald Laing
They left the temple and rambled, and everywhere there were pigeons.
“I’ve never seen so many pigeons before.”
Someone got off their bike and came to ask them for direction, “Could you point the way to the castle?”
“Stop, everyone; I’m painting a sign,” said Casselman.
“It’s that way,” said Caldera, pointing the way. “I’m the princess of Sign. What takes you to the castle?”
Before he could answer, they heard a whistle and turned to see who it was.
It was Jam. He came to say hello and recognized the one asking for direction, “Emm? I haven’t seen you in ages! How’s work at the museum?”
“Work’s good,” said Emm, “except a statue was stolen.”
“Not this one,” Faro asked him, showing him the statue of the goddess with curly hair.
Emm looked at it and said, “No, but this one’s missing her jacks ball.”
“I have it,” said Sol.
“Was the statue stolen under your watch?” Jam asked him.
“No. It was stolen during the day and I always work the night shift.”
“I’m working the night shift at the castle; I better be off-“
“Wait,” Emm stopped him. “Can I come with you? I’d like to speak with the king”
“Sure,” said Jam
“We’re coming with you too,” said Caldera. “Just wait for Casselman.”
Casselman put the sign up and they all walked in the direction of the sign.
They asked Emm to describe the statue that was stolen.
“It was the bust of a man. The museum said it was the bust of a soldier, but I doubt it.”
“Because it glowed at night. I thought I was the only one who knew it, but maybe I wasn’t. If I had told the museum that it glowed, they would have encased it and secured it better. But I kept it to myself; something told me to guard the secret. The one time I tried to tell, sirens silenced me.”
“Does the museum know now,” Caldera asked him.
“No. I thought I’d tell your father first. Nobody understands signs better than he does.”
Emmanuel by Henry Scott Tuke
While he told her father, she shuffled a new deck. She fanned the cards and pulled one out and it didn’t have a name. She turned the card around and it read, A playful god and his pigeons show you the way.
She passed the card and it went around the table, and they all remembered the pigeons they had seen when they left the temple.
When the card got to Emm, he said, “Op-Hermes’ birds.”
They stood up, suprised. “How do you know!” they asked him.
He said that he’d been to the Temple of Fent-Op to see the Oracle. He got lost trying to reach the castle, and he’d seen a sign pointing the way to the Oracle. When he got there, he walked up the steps and the attendant asked him if he had a game to play, and he didn’t. Luckily for him, a big red ball stuck above the entrance to the temple began to deflate and fell on the ground and bounced into his hands.
He bounced the ball and told the Oracle his story; how he had delighted in the glow of the statue during his nightwatch. It began to glow as the sun began to set, an orange glow that grew deeper the darker it got. If he had told the museum about it, he was sure the statue would have ended in a lab and analyzed, until a reason for the glow was found, because magic couldn’t be the reason. If he had told them about it, they would have researched the origins of the statue more diligently, and they wouldn’t have left it so exposed. But he didn’t; something told him not to, and now the statue was gone.
He stopped bouncing the ball and sat on the ground and said that he couldn’t work in the museum anymore; he couldn’t look at the empty place the statue had left. He felt responsible. Could the god Fent-Op help him find it?
Silence followed his question, and then he heard music that was melancholic, and when the music faded, the Oracle opened his eyes. He signed to the attendant and the attendant said, There is Op-Hermes, son of Op-Pollo, and the pigeon is his bird. Follow the pigeons.
“I thanked them, got on my bike and followed the pigeons, and I ran into you,” finished Emm.
The king wiped his mouth and put his napkin down and said, “I had that statue sitting in my bedroom for years and I never saw it glow.”
“How do you know it’s the same statue, dad?”
“Because the museum informed me that my bedroom statue was stolen.”
“You’ve given them so many artifacts, they could have confused it with another.”
“Why don’t we go to my study and I’ll show you a photograph. Emm, you can confirm if it’s the same one.”
“It’s the same one, your majesty,” said Emm.
“Very well. We’ll have Vero join us around the table tomorrow. She’s in charge of the investigation.
Vero by Veronica Winters
“You weighed the cons and pros of telling, and decided not to, ” Vero said, directing her words at Emm.
“When I thought I should, something warned me against it.”
“Did you ever touch the statue?”
“Never,” said Emm. “I always watched it from afar.”
“Maybe it was reverence,” he said.
“Could the glow have been a play of light?”
“No,” he said. “But the statue could have absorbed the light of day to glow at night.”
She turned her attention to the king, “Your highness, you said you never saw the statue glow.”
“Well,” said the king, “I looked back last night and remembered my wife always laying her silk robe over the statue before coming to bed. The statue was on a low pedestal against the wall where the light switch is. She would take her robe off, lay it over the statue, turn the light off and come to bed.”
“Like this,” said Faro, showing him the statue of the goddess with curly hair.
The king held the statue and said, “Like this. Do you mind if I keep it?”
“Not at all, your highness-“
“This ball goes with it,” said Sol, showing him where the blue jacks ball went.
“You keep that, Sol,” he said.
“So the statue was covered at night,” continued Vero.
The king nodded and said, “It was covered at night and didn’t get much sunlight during the day. Did it get sunlight in the museum?”
“Plenty,” she said.
“You’re not writing any of this down, Vero,” the king remarked.
“I came knowing that the statue glows,” she said.
“How!” they asked her.
“One of the staff mentioned it to me this morning; said they heard a rumour. You must have spoken about it on your way somewhere, and someone heard you and passed it on until it reached me. You have to be careful what you talk when you’re on the road, especially if there are pigeons. My husband says that pigeons pick up information and spread it-” She stopped abruptly and pointed at the window.
There were pigeons lined up on the window ledge.
“Whose birds are they,” she asked.
“Op-Hermes,” said the king, “playful son of Op-Pollo.”
“He’s been named,” she whispered.
There was silence, until Emm broke the silence, “I was hoping the thief wouldn’t know that the statue glows, but they’re sure to know it.”
“It’s out of your hands, Emm,” said Vero.
“They’ll fall in love with it and never return it.”
“Think of it this way,” she said, “if they’re in love with it, they’ll keep it safe until we find it.” She gave a small laugh and said, “I just thought of my daughter who is now the Oracle of Embrun. There is a bust of the great Op-Pollo in the temple, and she has me bring her fragrant oils so that she can polish the marble, and she does it tenderly.”
“Does it glow?”
“I’ve never asked her.”
“I once saw my wife polish the bedroom statue,” said the king. “Vero, when the statue is found, I want it brought back here; no lab, no analyses.”
“I’ll let the museum know, your highness,” she said, reaching down to pull a file from her briefcase. “The museum describes the piece as the head of a soldier.”
“It’s been in my family for generations. One of my ancestors found the piece of marble while rambling in the surroundings, and carried it back to the castle. They put it on a tall pedestal in front of the royal bed. Somewhere down the line, someone carved the face on it, and kept it where it was, overlooking the bed. Then I came along and said I wouldn’t be able to sleep with the statue looking at me, so we shortened the pedestal. I used to call it, my foot soldier. That’s why I told the museum he was a soldier.”
“Would it have received sunlight when it sat higher?”
“Probably at an angle, from the skylight,” said the king.
“Orange is Op-Yoda’s favourite colour,” said Chiron.
“But there are no known statues of him,” said Fred.
“You think someone meant to represent him on the marble piece?” Caldera asked.
“It could also be a self portrait,” said the king. “We’ll never know.”
Caldera looked at the photograph of the statue. “I’ve never seen rock like this around here,” she said, and the pigeons fluttered and cooed.
The king got up and asked her to come with him to the open window. He pointed at a road, and all the pigeons turned to look at the road he was pointing at.
“Go see Lorenzo, the sculptor. Take the photograph and ask him about the rock.”
“If you continue on the same road, it will take you to Embrun,” said Vero, coming to stand behind them. “Go and see my daughter; ask her if the bust of Op-Pollo glows.”
“We’ll pick up some natural oils for her from my sister,” said Cassandra. “Her shop is not far from Lorenzo’s studio.”
Giant hands by Lorenzo Quinn
I wonder what inspired those hands, said Emm.
Everyone who thought they knew didn’t offer an explanation.
They rang the doorbell and were welcomed in.
“What brings you here, princess?”
She showed him the photograph and asked if he knew where the rock came from.
“Is this statue your father’s?”
“He loaned it to the museum and it was stolen.”
“I walked by the museum one night, and saw an orange glow through the glass on the second floor. I visited the museum the following day and this piece was beside the glass. When I asked the woman at the front desk if the statue glowed at night, or if they left a light beside it, she said that she wasn’t aware of it, but she would inquire about it for me. I saw the glow again and went back to the museum. When I asked the woman if she had inquired about it, she said that she had forgotten to.”
“Would you be able to describe her to the person in charge of the investigation?”
“Yes,” he said.
They called Vero and she said she would be there in five.
“Have you ever worked with rock like this?”
“No,” he said, “it’s not quarried here. There is no marble known to glow.”
“It was found in the valley.”
“An erratic, perhaps.”
“Brought by a glacier?”
It thundered and began to pour and they didn’t hear his answer. When the rain died down, the doorbell rang. It was Vero.
They left her with Lorenzo, and went to see Cassandra’s sister.
Miranda by Veronica Winters
They walked inside her shop and she was on the phone. She raised her eyes to look at them and smiled and showed them her index finger, One minute.
They heard her say, “Listen honey, if the marble bust you have used to glow and doesn’t glow anymore, I have just the product for you. (pause) Proof? Go check out the bust of Op-Pollo in Embrun; he shines a mile away. (pause) I assure you, it won’t damage the surface. (talking to the client on the phone and to the people crowding her shop) All my products are one hundred per cent natural. Why don’t you come in? (pause) Sure, I can deliver; give me your address. (taking down the address) Oh, that’s around the corner. You’ll have it by the end of the day. (pause) Sooner? (Cassandra walks up to her sister and points at herself and points outdoors, offering to deliver) Okay, in fifteen.
“Cassy!” said Miranda, hugging her sister.
“Mira, that’s a stolen statue.”
“What! How do you know?”
They told her and called Vero and Vero said she’d be there in five.
She was there in five with police officers 1 and 2.
“Give me the package,” police officer 1 said.
“Give me the address,” police officer 2 said.
They took the package and the address and left with Vero.
“Wait for me here,” Vero told them.
“Have you seen all the pigeons,” Mira asked them, pointing at the window.
There were pigeons lined up on the ledge.
“They say pigeons are the birds of the god of the crossroads,” she continued. “I once saw a lad sitting on a herma by the river when I got lost going nowhere. He was surrounded by pigeons. I asked him for direction, and he took one of the pigeons and released it, saying, Follow the pigeon. I followed it and it led me here, to this shop that was empty. I stood in front of it imagining what I’d do with it, when a couple stepped outside and asked me if I wanted to rent it.”
“What would you have called the god,” Sol asked her.
“Op-Hermes,” she said.
“That’s his name.”
She nodded and showed them the logo of her shop, “The rock is the herma he was sitting on, glowing orange because he helped me find direction and meaning.”
“Is this a photograph,” Caldera asked her.
“Yes. Lorenzo helped me with the art work.”
“Where did you find the rock?”
“It’s huge,” she said. “I found it on one of my rambles. When I showed it to Lorenzo, he told me to keep it a secret, until my intuition told me it was safe to tell.”
They knocked on her door, and heard her ask, “Who is it?”
“Delivery,” they said.
She opened the door and dropped the polishing rag she was holding.
“Hands up,” said police officer 1.
“Where’s the bust of the soldier,” police officer 2 asked her.
“In the box, on that table.”
“No wonder it wasn’t glowing,” said Vero. “It absorbs the light of day to glow at night.”
“I didn’t know,” she said.
“Why did you take it?”
She laughed and said, “Because I’m a thief,” and she slipped away.
“She slipped away!” shouted police officer 1.
“After her!” shouted police officer 2.
They went after her, running in one direction and then the other, and pigeons flew with them in one direction and then the other, but she was nowhere.
They came back to the building where she lived and an old woman walking with a cane asked them for assistance.
“Could you help me up the stairs, officers.”
“Sure,” they said, and they helped her to her apartment which was the same one as the thief’s.
“I left the door open! Silly me,” she said, picking up the rag. “Is this yours?”
“No, but we’ll take it,” they said. “Is this where you live?”
“Yes,” she said, walking inside and looking around.
“Do you live alone?”
“Did you leave a box on that table?”
“What box,” she asked them.
“A box with a statue.”
“I don’t have any statues,” she said, thanking them and closing the door.
They went back outside where Vero stood holding the box.
“I’ve never seen so many pigeons in the valley,” said police officer 1.
“Me neither,” said police office 2.
“They are the birds of Op-Hermes, playful son of Op-Pollo. He’s been given a name,” Vero told them.
“We’re in trouble,” said police officer 1.
“We sure are,” said police officer 2.
“Let’s go show the statue to the princess and then we’ll take it to the castle,” said Vero, getting inside the car.
After her! by Jamil Naqsh
“Do you have the oils,” Cassandra asked her
“In my backpack,” said Mira, locking up her shop. She looked around, “The air feels different, doesn’t it? The pigeons are quiet.”
They heard crows.
“Will you show us your logo rock on the way to Embrun,” Red asked her.
“Let’s do that on a weekend,” she said.
“I’d like my dad to come with us,” said Caldera.
“Is this yours, Mira,” Emm asked her, picking up a rag from the road.
“Is that a polishing rag?” She took it from him and felt it. “It’s brand new. It could be mine, but you keep it,” she said. “I have a feeling you’ll be polishing the bust of the soldier when you get hired at the castle.”
“Did you read my mind? I was just thinking about asking the king for a job.”
“Faro, I meant to ask you a question about your vision,” said Cassandra.
“Go ahead,” said Faro.
“Did you get to see his face?”
“Op-Yoda’s? No; it was more like a presence, a knowing that it was him spreading the jacks.”
“We should walk in this direction,” said Fred, pointing the way.
They walked in silence, in a silence broken from time to time by caws.
“He’s bringing order.”
“Funny you say that. I was just wondering what it will feel like to return to work after all that’s happened.”
“Do we have a question for the Oracle, or are we just giving her the oils?”
“I have a question,” said Kehinde.
“What is it?”
“I lost my gold chain.”
“I’m not sure Op-Pollo’s the right god to ask about missing jewellery.”
“No harm trying.”
They got to the pilgrim’s road and it was packed.
“Look at all these people!”
“We probably won’t make it to the gates of Embrun till after sunset.”
“Should we turn back?”
“I’d turn back too,” said a man who overheard them. “But my wife lost her ring, and she’s adamant about asking the great Op-Pollo if he knows where it is. I’ve told her that he’s the god of prophecy, not the god who finds lost-“
“Are you looking for the Lost and Found,” a woman asked him. “They’ve set up a kiosk for lost and found objects further up the road.”
“They have? Thanks. I’ll go get my wife.”
People began to line up at the kiosk, and they lined up too.
“You might as well ask about your gold chain,” Cassandra said to Kehinde.
Everyone ahead of them asked the man in charge of the kiosk about a missing piece of jewellery.
“What a coincidence,” said Emm.
“It’s a sign,” said Chris, Cass, Fred and Chiron in unison.
“A sign of what,” Emm asked them.
“We’re not sure,” they said.
They heard a woman ask about a sapphire ring.
“Could it be this one,” said the man in charge, holding up a ring.
“My ring! You found my ring! Thank you!”
They heard a man ask about a silver bracelet.
“Could it be this one,” said the man in charge, holding up a bracelet.
“My bracelet! Thanks,” he said, putting it on.
When it was Kehinde’s turn, he told the man that he had lost a gold chain.
The man in charge rummaged around and said there were no gold chains.
They left the line and saw that the pilgrim’s road was clear, and they walked to the gates of Embrun.
City gates by Roger Bansemer
The attendant at the Temple of Op-Pollo showed them in and the Oracle recognized Mira.
“Mira! My mom told me you were coming.”
Mira made the introductions and then opened her backpack, “Look what we brought you.”
“Lovely! Come and see the bust of Op-Pollo,” she said, and they followed her.
He was of a pure white marble.
“Does he glow at night?” they asked her.
“I wouldn’t say he glows. He just shines his natural colour. Now, tell me, do you have a question for him?”
“I’d like to ask him about my gold chain. I lost it,” said Kehinde.
“Okay,” she said, and she whispered words in Op-Pollo’s ear, and stood close to him and fell into a trance. In a trance, she spoke words that made no sense.
When she opened her eyes, the attendant helped her to a chair and gave her words meaning. “When you find your gold chain, don’t drop it,” he said.
The Oracle by Veronica Winters
Before leaving Embrun, they walked on the bank of the river, and sitting on a rock was a familiar figure.
“It’s him,” said Faro.
Op-Hermes turned to look at them and laughed, and a gold chain shimmered around his neck.
“Kehinde! I found your gold chain!” he said.
“Where did you find it,” Kehinde asked him.
“Entangled in a net. Before I give it back, let’s play ball! Sol, throw me the blue jacks ball!” he said.
“Here comes trouble,” said Kehinde.
Sol threw him the jacks ball, and when it reached him, it was the size of a catch ball.
The played back and forth until they heard a rumble in the sky. They looked up and saw a flash of red and black.
Op-Hermes laughed and said, “Remember my father’s words. Don’t drop it this time.”
He disappeared from the rock and Kehinde saw the gold chain appear in his hand, and the next thing they knew, they were swept up in a net.
Gold chain by Aurora Anne Mersmann
Jade came down the temple steps and saw them lying on the ground, looking at the sky.
“I now know what inspired Lorenzo’s hands,” said Emm.
“I dropped it,” said Kehinde.
“Your gold chain?”
“I found it,” said Jade, taking it out of his pocket. “It’s broken, but I can fix it. I’m a goldsmith.”
Kehinde sat up and Jade gave him the broken pieces and asked him, “Where did you get it? I’ve never seen gold like it.”
Kehinde looked at the broken pieces and then at Jade, debating whether to tell, and Jade sat next to him and said, “I’m trustworthy.”
“An ajaja dropped it into my hand.”
“The sacred bird?”
“Which sacred bird?”
“The sacred bird of Op-Pollo’s playful child,” said Jade. “The ajaja is the blue ibis.”
“We thought pigeons were his birds.”
“They are, but when you tap deep into his wisdom, the blue ibis appears,” said Jade.
“But I don’t understand his wisdom,” said Kehinde. “I was even reluctant about naming him.”
“He’s been given a name?” Jade asked.
“Op-Hermes,” they told him.
Fred looked at the sun and said, “We should head back. Where do you live Jade?”
“In the valley of Sign.”
“So do we. Come with us.”
“What brought you to Embrun?”
“I’m in love with the Oracle,” said Jade, “but she’s in love with a god.”
Jade by Jade Rivera
“You mean Op-Pollo-“
“I mean me; she doesn’t see my imperfections; won’t accept them.”
“She’s under Op-Cyprus’ spell, and you probably are too. Chris and I are under her spell,” said Caldera.
“But we had our first fight,” said Chris, “and I saw the other side, the side that slams doors.”
“She’s slammed the temple doors on me, and you won’t believe this but the gods took her side. They dropped a red boulder from the sky. I saw it coming and went down those steps faster than a rocket.”
“Could it have been a giant red ball? Like a beach ball?”
“Maybe that’s why I didn’t hear it crash.” He stopped and said, “Fred, there’s a shortcut through here.”
“What about the river?”
“They’ve built a pedestrian bridge.”
“Wait everyone,” said Casselman. “I’m painting a sign.”
He put the sign up and they continued walking, and Jade asked, “What made you think it was a beach ball?”
They couldn’t lift it; it didn’t want to be lifted, so they walked and pushed the ball across the bridge. They told Jade it was a sign of the mighty Op-Maul, and they told him stories about the ball.
“Jade, can you tell us why the Oracle slammed the doors on you?”
“I brought her a gift in a small box and she thought it was a ring, but it wasn’t.”
“What was it?”
“A temari ball.”
“My mom makes them,” said Red, “and she’s teaching Kehendi the craft. She says that Kehendi’s work is masterful.”
“What colour was the temari ball you gave the Oracle?”
“The silk wadded to form the ball is blue, and it’s wrapped in gold embroidery.”
“I made that one,” said Kehendi.
“You have a gift,” Jade told Kehendi. “The Oracle appreciates the ball now. When she got over her disappointment, she saw how beautiful it is.”
“How did you fix the problem between you?”
“I told her that my family has the custom of giving a temari ball to the person they love. I found one that made me think of her, and now she had to find one that made her think of me.”
“Was it a lie?”
“It did make me think of her, which is why I gave it to her, but the rest was an elaboration. I told my mom about it, to avoid future problems, and now everyone in the family owns at least a couple.”
The giant red ball began to deflate, and it didn’t stop deflating until it was the size of a temari ball. Kehinde picked it up and said, “Tell her that I’ll make one to match the one she has, in red silk.”
“Have you noticed how he makes us work?”
“This kind of work,” Kehinde asked, holding up the red ball.
“That kind of work and physical work-“
“There’s also the warning he gave about the banks of the river, and the banks were restored.”
“The balcony too.”
“Maybe it’s when we work that we tap into his wisdom.”
“What about Op-Hermes?”
“I think it’s problem solving,” said Kehinde. “The woman in the neighbourhood closest to the valley said that he brings visions of the past and the future, hindsight and foresight. When I work on a temari ball, I’m learning from the past to create a new design.”
“There’s invention; it’s how Jade solved his problem with the Oracle.”
“In the process, he gave his family a new ritual.”
“Say, Kehendi, what were you thinking of when the ajaja dropped the gold chain in your hand,” Red asked him.
“I was wondering about the future; if my temari skills have any use.”
“Become my apprentice,” said Jade. “We’ll begin by fixing your gold chain.”
“Stop everyone, we’re lost,” said Fred. “The shortcut threw me off. I need a flashlight.”
“This is when we should pray to the god of the road for direction.”
“He doesn’t have a ritual.”
“Okay,” said Red. “Cass, blindfold me with your bandana and spin me around three times. Wherever I point is where we go.”
Cass did just that and Red pointed and said, “Now take the blindfold off.”
They looked to see where he was pointing, and Mira laughed.
“What,” they asked her.
“Can’t you see the orange glow?”
“Let’s go there.”
When they got there, Red sat beside the logo rock. “It’s how I imagined it to be. This is where I would like to teach yoga. I’ll ask the king for permission-“
They heard their names being called.
“We’re here!” they replied.
Three riders appeared; the king, the black knight and the chief engineer.
“We’ve been looking for you,” they said, dismounting.
The king walked to the glowing rock, admiring it. “You found another one. I’ve put the foot soldier back on a tall pedestal overlooking the bed, and he’s magnificent.”
“Sire, would you allow me to teach yoga here, around the logo rock,” Red asked him.
“You know how it is, Red. If I give you permission, others will want it.”
“We can put them on a schedule, your majesty,” said Casselman. “Leave it to me.”
“Okay,” said the king. “Now, do you know your way back, or do you want to walk beside us?”
“I know the way,” said Mira.
“Don’t take too long; I want you all to come and see the castle. We’ve decorated it with balloons.”
“The king had us blowing balloons all day,” said the black knight, shaking his head. “It wasn’t easy-“
“But we perfected the art of balloon blowing,” said the chief engineer.
“Why balloons,” Caldera asked.
“Since this story is rated G, we thought balloons would be a nice way to end it.”
Mary Look! A balloon!
Léa (grabs Mary before she plunges into the busy street) Mary, what are you doing! You’ll get killed!
Mary I didn’t think-
Léa Let it go.
the three women watch the balloon go
Rose It’s like a thought you have when you’re walking or driving and you can’t write it down. You repeat it to yourself because it’s beautiful, brilliant and you don’t want to forget it. But then something distracts you, or you arrive at your destination and get busy with this, busy with that, and when you finally have a moment, a pen in hand to write it down, it’s no longer there. You try to recall it, but it’s slipped away.
Mary Brilliant for a moment.
Léa (watching the last trace of the balloon) The lawyer was like that.
Mary Brilliant for a moment?
Léa No, he kept slipping away, like that balloon.
Léa gets lost in thought
Rose Do you want him back?
Léa Why are you asking me that?
Rose Because when you think of someone the way you are now, your thoughts reach out to touch them and the next thing you know-
Léa’s phone vibrates
Mary No way!
Léa It’s my mother. (answers her phone) Mom, can I call you back? I’m with Mary and Rose.
Mary Look! The dry cleaning van! Léa, your thoughts reached out to touch him and he sent you the van!
Rose Is it the same one?
Mary Looks the same.
Rose We should call him to verify.
Léa and Mary Don’t you dare, Rose!
red and white emergency lights rush by, and they watch the lights as if hypnotized, until they disappear
Mary Do you remember the timbre of his voice?
Léa Yes, that dangerous baritone that puts reason to sleep-
Rose and opens the yin eye.
Diego on my mind by Frida Kahlo, 1943
Mary What if the detective sent the van?
Léa Then he’d have a purpose; he always drove purposefully.
the dry cleaning van pulls over next to the them
the driver takes a pen and pad from the glove compartment and begins to write
the three women watch him
Mary What would his purpose be?
Léa He’s advising us to carry a pen. He’s saying, When you have a brilliant thought, pull over and write it down before it slips away.
the driver puts the pen and pad back inside the glove compartment and drives away
the women continue walking
The detective by Nik Ad
Léa The driver didn’t speak yin yang very well; it may have been his first time.
Mary Do you think the detective is training a new batch to speak the language? He could be using us to work on their skills.
Rose Well, let’s see. (clears her throat) I believe there are two kinds of people, people who don’t carry a pen and leave things to chance, and people who always carry a pen and like things to go as planned.
Léa Look to your right.
a young person gets off their bike and starts searching for a pant pocket, but his pants don’t have a pocket
Mary He’s holding his phone with one hand and looking for a pen with the other.
Rose He’s holding the detective with one hand and looking for a pen with the other. The detective is the kind of person who always has a purpose, a pen and a plan.
Lea He’s as slippery as the lawyer.
Rose You know how they say distance keeps the romance alive.
Carrier by Anatolii Varvarov
It’s not the kind of romance that threatens marriage, work or reputation
Everyone’s doing their Saturn
They’re even getting promoted
Rising up in the world.
It’s the kind of romance that turns this
If anything, it’s enhancing marriage, work and reputation
Because it’s tapping into the imagination
Bringing Eros back to life
That kind of romance.
The kind that brings night into day
Play into work
Yin into yang.
Yin Yang by Burnett Tila
A black man wearing a flowery shirt cheerfully waves at the three women
There’s Night, Play and Yin all in one
A carrier of the detective’s message.
Not all his carriers inspire Botticellis
No, some inspire a different kind of romance.
That part is out of his hands
That part he leaves to
Chance by Natalia Wallwork
Romance and games of chance belong in the fifth house. It’s Leo’s house in the natural zodiac, but not everyone has Leo there. Jung had Gemini on the cusp of the fifth, and when he felt that he had lost reason to live, he took time off and went to his fifth.
It’s a studious sign Gemini.
He read the books of magic attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, Hermes thrice greatest, the Hermes who learned to travel to the underworld; the heavens, the earth, the underworld.
Souls on the banks of the Acheron by Adolf Hiremy-Hirschl
He learned to change his persona and the shape of his mind to go from one realm to the other, like quicksilver, his metal.
Schoolbus flash by Fairest Photo
Jung read Hermes Trismegistus and traveled to his own underworld, that place of soul making he called the unconscious. To reach it, he analyzed his dreams, wrote about them, drew them.
He had a romance with his mind.
He said that his explorations opened his imagination to see mystery and magic in the world, mystery and magic in the things that seemed to happen by chance.
Illustration from Jung’s Red Book
Mary Shelley had Virgo on the cusp of the fifth, and Virgo is a sign that crosses boundaries, like Persephone crossed a boundary to be queen of the underworld, like Demeter crossed a boundary to be a children’s nurse in Eleusis.
She was open to her father’s education, took pleasure in literature, enjoyed writing stories, had a romance with words. She was learned. She crossed a boundary of the times with her intelligence.
The fifth is the house where Venus has her joy, and this is where she was when the arrow of Eros pierced her heart. She fell in love with a poet who was already married. Cross that boundary and there is no turning back, her father warned her.
She crossed the boundary.
Benvenuto Cellini was a Florentine artist; a sculptor, goldsmith and writer. He had Scorpio in the fifth and a romance with Fortuna, she who turns the wheel of fortune.
He was troublemaker and a risk taker, and every time he got in trouble with the law, he tested her love for him.
The romance began when he was 16. He was banished to Siena for taking part in a brawl, and it was in Siena that he was apprenticed to a goldsmith.
Back in Florence, he was prosecuted for fighting and condemned to death, but he fled to Rome, and in Rome, he worked for the Bishop of Salamanca and Pope Clement VII.
When he was found guilty of killing a rival goldsmith, Pope Paul III absolved him.
When he wounded a notary, he fled Rome and settled back in Florence, and worked for the Medici.
He went back to Rome and was imprisoned for embezzlement, but the Cardinal d’Este of Ferrara insisted that he be released.
He tested her love for him and she never failed him, because of his art, the things he could do with his hands.
Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini
Hitchcock’s cameo appearances in his movies began by chance. He was filming The Lodger and the actor who was supposed to play the telephone operator didn’t show up. He decided to fill in for him, and so began the playful romance he had with his audience.
A playful romance in Sag.
Trying to spot him in his movies became a sport of his fans, and he made sure to appear early on, so they would get that over with and concentrate on the plot.
Taylor Swift has Aries in the fifth and she too has a romance with her audience, but Aries is a demanding sign. All signs demand something from us, but Aries demands excellence and excellence requires some form of sacrifice.
She has to work hard to keep the romance alive, with new creations, innovation. She’s used her life as a source of inspiration for her music and given up her privacy, but that’s changing now as she grows older. She’s learning to find inspiration elsewhere and live a more balanced life.
There is something iconoclastic in Pisces, something that can unsettle what is established,
like Jupiter unsettled Saturn’s reign,
like Typhon ran afoul of the Titans who created him,
like Michel Foucault called into question ideas we hold as truths, ideas that have to do with sexuality, sanity and madness, and scientific objectivity. He studied how these ideas emerged to become truths, not necessarily to undermine their value, but to expose them as social constructs.
He had Pisces on the cusp of the fifth.
His romance was with iconoclasm.
The fifth is the house of our favourite things and Angela Merkel has Taurus in the fifth. She enjoys cooking and romances her husband with good food; she cooks him a hearty breakfast every morning.
The fifth is also the house of children, of how we raise our children. Merkel doesn’t have children of her own, but she’s raising the youth of her country by example; she doesn’t deny anyone the most basic necessity; refuge.
She’s a big fan of football and attends every game that the national team plays; the players affectionately call her Mutti. She’s always had a favourite, and when her favourite is suspended, they sit him down beside her, for her to console and give practical advice.
Taurus is a pragmatic sign.
It is public knowledge that she’s scared of dogs, and yet, when she met with Putin in Sochi, Putin called his dog to join them. “I’m sure it will behave itself,” he said. He has Pisces in the fifth.
Shakira says that when she was not feeling the love like it was supposed to be, she began to lose faith, to believe there was no god.
Then she suddenly met her partner Gerard and the sun came out.
She has Leo in the fifth, and he suits the demands of the house; youthful, playful, and he chases a ball for a living.
She says that if you can prove the existence of god, it can only be proven through love.
They’ve had two children together, but she’s reluctant to seal their relationship and move into the seventh house. She doesn’t want to be his wife; she wants to be his girlfriend and keep the romance alive.
It took about a year for the American press to warm up to Nancy Reagan. She was a 60 year old woman who could pull off wearing fire engine red, a 60 year old woman who could have been on the cover of a Cosmopolitan magazine, glamorous and
They ridiculed her for her lofty lifestyle and called her Queen Nancy.
Then came the annual dinner at the Gridiron Club where they expected her to have her revenge, poke fun at the press, but what she did instead finally broke the ice between them.
She poked fun at herself.
She went backstage to change and came out wearing second hand clothes. She sang a song that said how her trench coat with a fur collar, Ronnie bought for 10 cents a dollar, and how he’d gifted her a sewing machine.
She had Aquarius on the cusp of her fifth followed by Uranus in Pisces.
She could do romance like Ganymede, maintaining her separateness.
She could do romance like Tros who had horses that could walk on water; together but separate.
‘Just say no to drugs’ rally at the White House
And she could dip into Pisces and unsettle the order of things.
Nancy Reagan in second hand clothing
Libra is acutely aware that a small dip, a small whisper, can have great consequence.
Themis telling Eris that she wasn’t invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis
Kamala Harris is a Libra Sun and has Libra on the cusp of her fifth.
When she was running to become the democratic nominee for president, she had a hard time taking a stand on some of the issues. She’d take a stand and back out. The reason she gave was that she saw everything through the lens of how it would impact people; the ripple effect.
Her romance is with her country, and she romances her country with her charm and good taste.
The fifth house is the joy of Venus and Venus rules Libra.
Kamala loves pearls too. They suit her.
When she was going to spend most of a summer campaigning in Iowa, she ran into a friend and joked, I’m f**king moving to Iowa!
She then sensed a journalist standing behind a column. Her Libra Sun is conjunct Mercury in Scorpio, also in the fifth.
She continued telling her friend how excited she was, how much she loves Iowa, how engaging the people are.
There is a need to belong in Cancer, to put down roots.
Gertrude Stein had Cancer in the fifth.
She romanced the artists who gathered around her by buying their work and helping them get established.
Those who knew how to romance her painted her and rooted her in the art establishment.
Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso
Kathy Bates plays Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen’s movie, Midnight in Paris.
Have you seen it?
In the movie, Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, and Gil is Woody’s blond and gentile alter ego. He wishes he could escape the present and live in Paris in the 20s, and he is magically transported there and meets the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway, Picasso and Gertrude Stein.
It’s a dream come true for Gil, until he dreams that he goes to the dentist and the dentist doesn’t have any novocaine, or antibiotics for that matter.
Woody Allen has Capricorn in the fifth, in the sign of Enki-Ea who wrote laws based on reality.
He romances us by bursting illusions with a bit of Enki humour; the illusion that the past was better than the present.
He tells us that if the present is a little unsatisfying it’s because life is a little unsatisfying.
But at the end of the movie, he brings back magic,
This astrology that has its roots in the stories of ancient Babylon and Greece, that became an art in Hellenistic Greece, an art of archetypes, sacred art. It brings the cosmos closer to us, in us, participants in the cosmos. To participate consciously, to see the multiplicity, the multiple possibilities, choices. It is a multivalent art, to guide us and do no harm.
Statue of Asclepius, King’s Library, British Museum
It begins in the northern hemisphere, where the skies are darkest between Sagittarius and Capricorn.
There are scorpions on this earth, and scales, farmers and lions, crabs and twins, bulls, rams and fish,
and people who get carried away by their dreams, dreamers.
Jupiter and Ganymede by Richard Westmacott
There are dreamers in Aquarius, heads in the clouds that take time to mature and make their dreams come true.
They say Aquarius reaches for the waters of the abzu in Capricorn, and bathes us with the waters of the great aquifer, waters of ideas.
The Sun is heading up in Aquarius, but in Sag and Capricorn the nights are long, and it is in the night that imagination soars,
and we imagine a centaur in the sky,
Centaur in repose by liminalbean
and a mergoat.
Mergoat by K-ee-ran
In the astrology chart, the fifth house lies below the horizon. We read the chart counter clockwise, but the sun rises in the twelfth and is at its peak in the tenth. It sets in the seventh, and it is night time in the fifth house of romance and imagination.
There are people we get to know starting with their fifth, with the things they love. The fifth is an entry house in getting to know someone.
Like Ariel, the little mermaid. She collected things that belonged to the world of humans. She hid them in a grotto and wondered about them; she wondered about fire and why it burns.
The fifth house is 120 degrees away from the ninth; it trines the ninth. There is a harmonious relationship between the things we love and all that the ninth represents; knowledge and how we make sense of the world, long distance travel and what is foreign to us, prophets and gurus, astrologers and oracles. We are in the ninth when we envision the future.
Despite her father’s warnings of danger, Ariel was drawn to the world of humans.
One night, fireworks in the sky caught her attention and she rose to the surface. There was a celebration on a ship and she swam to it, and on the ship was Eric.
She was pierced by the arrow of Eros.
She was sixteen, half way before her Saturn return, when Saturn in the sky opposed her natal Saturn. A Saturn return brings maturity, a maturity that begins with the opposition, when we try breaking free from constraints, strive for independence, act defiantly.
When her father found out that she had been to the surface, he destroyed the objects in her secret grotto, and she acted defiantly.
She challenged the rules imposed by her father.
The fifth house is 90 degrees from the eighth; it forms a square with the eighth, and there is challenge in a square.
Meeting with Ursula the witch was a challenge. Ursula was eighth house material; she was taboo. She offered to change Ariel into a human, to give her legs in exchange for her voice. If Ariel got Eric to kiss her in three days time, she could keep her legs. If not, she’d go back to being a mermaid and belong to her.
How would she get Eric to kiss her without her voice?
Use your body and your charm, Ursula told her, and Ariel looked at her first house. There is a mirror in the first house that forms a grand trine with the fifth and the ninth.
If the mirror does not reflect back what we love and believe in, and how we imagine ourselves to be,
we may take the challenge.
It can happen when we’re older, like it’s happening to him. He was born in August 1986.
We are in the ninth when we consult an astrologer, but we are in the eighth when we practice astrology, because astrology is a form of magic. Anything that can have an influence on another is a form of magic.
It is called the house of mystery, and how the mind works is hidden and mysterious. We cannot know another person’s thoughts, another person’s motivation, and we don’t always know our own.
We are in the eighth when we investigate crime and the criminal mind; the forces behind breaking the law and doing what is taboo.
It is the house of our psychology.
It can tell us how we deal with difficult situations, and the man born in August 1986 has Aquarius on the cusp of the eighth.
The man comes from a family rooted in their background, their cultural origins and religion. But he was born here, in a secular country, diverse and mixed.
His family expects him to be like them, and he is like them at home. But outside his home, he is like his country of birth.
Aquarius can split; there is Tros on earth and Ganymede in the sky.
Around the time of his Saturn return, he left home for the first time. He decided to change his career and applied to a university in another city. When he finished his studies, he got a job there and met the woman he loves.
Scorpio is on the cusp of his fifth, and there’s loyalty in Scorpio, and he is loyal. Step further into his fifth, and there’s Sag. Saturn in Sag can master one philosophy, one way of seeing the world, and he can master all philosophies, many ways of seeing the world. With Uranus also in Sag, he is less likely to be dogmatic, and more likely to be experimental and yin yang.
The woman he loves is also loyal and comes from a big united family. She does not share his background, but is open to it, interested in it.
Like him, she likes to hike, and she’s a dog lover. In fact, she is a vet.
He had gone out with women of his same background before, stayed in Scorpio before, but she took him into Sag, Saturn and Uranus in Sag, and activated his seventh house of partnerships in Aquarius. Saturn and Uranus rule Aquarius.
They want to get married, but his family disapproves, does not speak to him, has disowned him.
Saturn and Aquarius also rule the cusp of his eighth house, and the eighth can bring challenges and crises; there is an underworld in the eighth.
He’s been a loyal son and a loyal boyfriend, and the crisis is tearing him apart, asking him to choose,
asking him to be loyal to himself.
Saturn and Jupiter in the sky are also involved. They are transiting Aquarius.
The transits are drawing people into his life to help him and to help his family accept
who he loves and his beliefs, an integration of his beliefs; Tros and Ganymede.
Jupiter in the sky will enter Pisces in December and commence his Jupiter return. Jupiter returns can bring new opportunities, new meaning, a new way of looking at the world. They propel us to the next stage of life, but they are not always easy.
His Jupiter return will be exact on April 2, 2022.
Chart for April 2, 2022
Every planet has many manifestations, and every planet has a shadow and a light.
In light, there is optimism in Pisces, a dream come true.
In light, there is discipline and commitment in love in Aquarius.
The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition Happy Ending
This is the chart of the woman he loves. She was born in December 1987.
She has Saturn Uranus in Sag in her third house of the village that raises us, community, and she contests authority.
Like the little mermaid who contested her father’s belief that humans were bad.
Step further into her third and there’s generosity of spirit in the Neptune Sun conjunction in Capricorn, and Mercury in Capricorn. There is history in the earth signs, and Mercury in Capricorn traces the history of ideas and beliefs to understand them better, and to question them.
She has the last degree of Aquarius on the cusp of her fifth, and the rulers of Aquarius join the fifth to the third house.
She thinks for herself and has romanced men who think for themselves, until she met the man of ’86. His Jupiter in Pisces pulled her further into her fifth house where Pisces is, and she took a plunge with him into the emotional waters of ancestry and faith.
His ancestry and her ancestry, his faith and her faith.
He triggered her house of partnerships. Her Jupiter, ruler of Pisces, is on the cusp of her seventh house in Aries.
When they resurfaced, she asked him, what should we preserve from these waters, and what should we dissolve to create something new, together.
She wanted them to think about it together, to have a dialogue about matters of the ninth house.
The ninth is the joy of the Sun; the ancients called it the house of god. She has Gemini on the cusp of the ninth and is open to dialogue and debate about beliefs; it’s something she enjoys; it helps define her; it helps others define themselves.
There’s something else about Gemini; the Gemini twins rescue people; they are gods of rescue.
Saturn and Jupiter in the sky have been transiting her fourth house of home, activating it, making it busy.
This is where she and the man she loves spend the weekends. She has many siblings; her third house of siblings is packed, and they all get together on the weekends.
Her family has embraced him. He’s had to put his story into words for them, and everyone in her family has gotten involved in the telling of his story.
Venus is in her fourth, and Venus rules her first house and her eighth house. Her reflection is at home, and in a time of crisis, home is her refuge.
When he sees her, he sees her in the context of her family, and he’s made room for himself in her family, adapted to them to belong.
She too is making room for herself in his family, learning about his background, so that one day, when he is able to introduce her to his family, she will feel like she belongs.
This is the father of the man of ’86. He was born in September 1957. His chart is a solar chart; he does not have his time of birth.
Finding a time that puts his sun in the first house makes it easier to read.
He is known in his community for building a temple, the first temple dedicated to his faith in the place where he lives. He opened the doors to the temple the year of his second Saturn return.
The second Saturn return happens the same year as a Jupiter return, at the age of 59, 60. The two social planets return and initiate a new cycle of life. He initiated a new cycle of life around worship.
Capricorn is in his fifth house, and Saturn ties his fifth to his fourth house in Sag. He’s always had a romance with his roots, with the stories of his faith, the origins of the rituals, the reasons for the rules. He’s taught them to his kids, been an example to them. But since he turned 60 and built a temple, his romance has taken a more serious tone; it’s now part of his public image.
Taurus is in his ninth house of higher learning, beliefs, god, and Venus ties the ninth to the third house of community. She is conjunct Neptune, her higher octave, in Scorpio, and together they make music. He played music and sang the songs of his faith at social gatherings, and from these gatherings was born the idea of a temple.
Now Uranus in the sky is transiting Taurus, shaking up his ninth house. He is squaring his natal Uranus in Leo, shaking up his twelfth house as well. The work we do behind the scenes is in the twelfth, volunteer work is in the twelfth, and he volunteers at the temple; this is where he shines.
His natal Uranus in Leo is conjunct his son’s Sun, the son born in ’86, who left home and has fallen in love with a foreigner. The son is the reason behind all the shake up,
the one challenging him to go somewhere he hasn’t been before,
challenging him to break a structure he was brought up with, that his children can only marry people of the same background and faith,
challenging the idea that there is shame in mixing, shame in hybridity.
Transits through the ninth can challenge us to expand the mind, go further in our thinking, venture into foreign territory.
But before he could process any of that, he got angry.
What his son is asking him to do is to change his reflection, to be the man with the temple and the hybrid son.
There is room for that in Virgo.
He’s in the part of the story where Demeter closed herself in the temple that the queen of Eleusis built for her. He’s in the part where Demeter turned the earth barren with her grief, and people asked Jupiter to intervene.
Jupiter in the sky will begin his transit through Pisces in December.
Virgo and Pisces work together; they find relief in each other.
Jupiter in the sky will first oppose his natal Pluto, and Jupiter once reached a compromise with Pluto. Then he will oppose his natal Mercury, and Mercury once traveled to the underworld to bring Persephone back to Demeter.
When Jupiter in the sky opposes his natal Sun and Mars, his son of ’86 will be finalizing a Jupiter return, conjunct Neptune.
Neptune can be a dream and Neptune can be a nightmare, and Jupiter can expand a dream and expand a nightmare. But he can also put an end to a nightmare,
and bring the seasons back.
This is the mother of the man of ’86. She was born in January 1960.
When we look at Cancer, we look at the flavour of the Moon, and her Moon is in Aquarius, with her Sun conjunct Mercury. She is an independent spirit.
She came to this land in her teens. She found part time work in a bank when she finished high school and loved it. She has now been with the bank for forty years.
When the bank offered her opportunities in other cities, other countries, she did not take them. Her Moon is tied to her Ascendant, and the Moon speaks of the mother.
She relied on her mother to help her with her children when they were in school. Her mother shares her spirit; they can both rise above all the drama that happens in a big family.
Her romance is with her independence at work and at home.
Her position at the bank is unique. She has been there for so long that she knows all the ins and outs; how things were before and how they have evolved.
Her position at home is also unique. Her family ties her to one way of thinking, but she has a life outside of home that exposes her to many ways of thinking. Gemini is in her fourth house, and for a long time, before the first generation of children born in this land grew up, she was the bridge that explained other ways of thinking to the women in her family.
Scorpio is on the cusp of her ninth house, and the rulers of Scorpio tie the ninth to the seventh and the eleventh house. She takes into consideration the points of view of her marriage partner and the people in her social groups to make sense of the world, to see it through their eyes.
She’s been letting everyone have their say about her son’s romance, and letting her husband take the lead on how to address it. To keep the peace between them, she’s been keeping her opinions to herself.
Behind the scenes, she talks to her son and to her mother. Her mother has given her son her blessings; she’s told him that he can marry the woman he loves.
Hidden in her ninth house is Sag, and Jupiter is in Sag in her tenth house. There is a centaur in her life that has pushed her to cross boundaries and find freedom at work, fulfillment at work.
Jupiter in the sky will be transiting her first house next year, and around the time of her son’s Jupiter return, he will square her natal Jupiter in Sag.
Perhaps a challenge not to rise above, but to speak up.
Last is one of the siblings of the man of ’86. She is the one closest to the father, born in April 1988.
Leo is in her fifth house, and Leo rules the hearth, the central fire, the glue that holds a family together. Love holds her family together, and the belief system she grew up with. She may not be able to separate the two. Such is the emotional power that parental beliefs can have.
The Sun joins her fifth house to her first house in Aries, and there is fight in Aries. She’s been fighting to bring her brother back into the fold. She’s been asking people who’ve been supporting him to stop encouraging him. When her brother wanted to introduce her to the woman he loves, she said, No.
Sag is in her ninth house of beliefs and higher education, and Jupiter, ruler of Sag, is in Taurus with Venus.
She has an affinity for the natural sciences.
She’s attracted to the humane rules of her faith, the Taurean qualities of her faith; respect for all life, preservation, conservation. Taurus rules the containers of history, the past.
Jupiter trines Saturn Uranus in Capricorn, and there is the potential here to think outside the box, to break through to another level of perception.
Jupiter trines Neptune, and there is imagination and creativity in this aspect; mer people emerging from the abzu to walk on land.
When she looks at the mirror of her first house in Aries, Mars brings her to Capricorn. He reminds her that she belongs to the yin yang generation. What part will she play.
She says that she’s going to rise from the waters of the abzu-
No, not to get married. Everyone’s expecting her to do that.
She’s going to rise from the waters to spread the word. She’s going to challenge people who want to bring change, persuade them to follow her example. The Moon in Libra asks for consensus.
An unmarried woman and a female priest. Her family has never seen one of those before.
Uranus in the sky is transiting Taurus. He is conjunct her natal Jupiter, and Jupiter Uranus can push the boundaries of the mind, bring a period of study and revelation.
She says that she’s had mystical experiences.
Jupiter in the sky will begin his transit through Pisces in her twelfth house, the house of the unremembered dead. He will be squaring her ninth house in Sag for a year, and trining her eighth house in Scorpio; Pluto is in Scorpio. There can be growth and initiations.
Her romance is with her heart.
Bob Dylan has Jupiter Uranus in the fifth house in Taurus, with Saturn and the Moon. His songs struck a chord with the American people of his generation.
He is a Gemini Sun with Mercury and Venus; harmony and elegance of words in his sixth house of work.
Venus joins the fifth and sixth house together, and his romance has been with his work, writing and performing songs.
He gives language a great deal of thought. He says that if we say a word like the word home, the image that rises in every person will be different.
There is no way he can control how the words of his songs will be interpreted, so he doesn’t worry about it.
There is sincerity in his interviews. He doesn’t put on a show. He says that he doesn’t know, when he doesn’t know the answer to a question. And when a question doesn’t make sense, he asks the same question back to the interviewer to make his point.
His Geminian mind is grounded in the realism and practicality of the earth in Taurus and Virgo.
Virgo is on the cusp of his ninth with Neptune. Like Pluto and Uranus, Neptune is a generational planet and speaks of the aspirations of a generation.
He never set out to become a star. He simply did his craft. He paid attention to what was going on around him and wrote about it and about the people he came across.
When he looks at his first house in Sag, his mirror tells him to look for meaning in the work he does, to make his work meaningful.
Some call him a prophet because he put into verse the thoughts of his generation.
They call the ninth house the house of prophets and false prophets. This is the chart of Jim Jones.
Virgo is on the cusp of his ninth, and Mercury, ruler of Virgo, is in the fourth house. His beliefs weren’t foreign; they were the beliefs that he grew up with. What he did different was to cross boundaries and build a temple that was integrated. He called it the peoples temple, a temple of the folk.
Step further into his ninth, and there’s Libra.
Venus, ruler of Libra, is in Aries in his house of community, with Uranus and the Moon.
Venus Uranus is a playful conjunction; it can give a taste for the macabre, or anything that’s unusual.
Jones played with his community; he put on a show to entice them to join his temple. He performed miracles, restored people back to health, gave new life.
When he looked into the mirror of his first house, the mirror asked him to master the laws of the land, the laws of the church, but he told the mirror that he was making new laws for his temple. He was a maker of laws, benevolent laws that protected a community of people bound to him as if by contract.
His MC in Libra intervened and reminded him that he could sway people to join his temple, but he could not force them to stay. He replied that he would force them to stay; he would use coercion if he had to.
He took care of the people’s needs, and in return, he demanded loyalty.
His Sun is on the cusp of the fifth house in Taurus, trining the first and sextiling the seventh, demanding loyalty.
The Sun also squares Mars in Leo in the eighth, and his joy and energy are in that square,
tapping the door that leads to the underworld.
That’s what he enjoyed. The square pulls in Venus Uranus in Aries and his taste for the macabre and the unusual,
and he tapped the door and tested people’s loyalty.
From time to time during a sermon, he would ask people to drink Kool-Aid that could or could not be laced with poison.
This is the chart for November 17, 1989, the day the Little Mermaid was released.
The Sun is in Scorpio with Scorpio’s ruling planets, Mars and Pluto.
There is birth in Aries, and there is rebirth in Scorpio, and the movie heralded Disney’s rebirth, the Disney Renaissance.
We hold ideals in the ninth, the way we see the world, and on that day, Cancer was in the ninth.
The Moon in Cancer is an insulated protected world.
The Moon and Jupiter in Cancer is an insulated protected world that welcomes all.
A world, a temple, a studio.
With the Little Mermaid, Disney hoped to attract an international and multi generational audience to the theatre
with a story that touched everyone,
an animated story, a musical.
Disney hoped to attract an audience with Uranus and Neptune Saturn Venus in Capricorn. Neptune oils Saturn, Venus brings artistry, and Uranus adds the magic of new technology. An old story was given new life in Capricorn, and the planets tapped into the imagery of the sign, the mer people of the abzu.
Pisces, ruled by Neptune and Jupiter, is on the cusp of the fifth, romancing creativity in Capricorn, and team work in Cancer, the ability to work in secrecy with a large group of people from around the world.
Step further into the fifth, and there’s Aries, and Aries joins the fifth to the first; birth and rebirth. A romance with initiations, coming of age, the transformations that families and kinsfolk go through in life.
There’s kinsfolk in Scorpio; the mirror reflects kinsfolk.
This is the chart of Hans Christian Anderson, the storyteller who wrote the Little Mermaid.
In his story, the little mermaid falls in love with the prince and with the idea of winning an immortal soul; mer people didn’t have immortal souls. The sea witch tells her that she could win one if she got the prince to love her and marry her.
The prince doesn’t marry her, and in the end, she dies. She becomes a daughter of the air, and other daughters of the air tell her that if they perform enough good deeds, they will be granted an immortal soul.
Jupiter in Sag trines Mars in Leo in his eighth house, and Anderson explored the afterlife in his stories; he tapped on that door in his stories.
He has Saturn Uranus in Libra, and his idea of a happy ending broke the rules of romance.
Ron Clements says that when he started reading the story, he thought it was amazing, visual and cinematic; he wondered why Disney hadn’t picked it up. But then the story got sadder and sadder, and he knew why.
He had to pitch an idea at Disney, and he’d gone to where he always goes for ideas; he walked into a bookstore to read fairytales from the past. The Sun and Jupiter Mars in Taurus have faith in the past. He came across Anderson’s Little Mermaid, and when he finished reading the story, he wanted to fix it.
Neptune Saturn in Libra are in his fifth.
There is in Libra the dance of relationship. Saturn in Libra masters the dance, and Neptune oils Saturn, adds suppleness, grace, imagination.
Clements found a way to make the dance between the little mermaid and the prince work; he restored the rules of romance.
Aquarius is on the cusp of his ninth. Ruled by Saturn and Uranus, tradition and progress, Aquarius learns not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
He updated the old story, made it relevant to the people of his time, any person. Aquarius de centres.
When he looks into the mirror of his first house, the mirror asks him to be family oriented.
This is Ron Clements’ solar chart.
Once upon a time in the ancient world, a group of astrologers gave Mercury rulership of Aries, perhaps because Mercury in Aries makes such good storytellers. They have the words to describe the images that rise in the fire of the sign.
Hans Christian Andersen has the Sun Mercury in Aries. Ron Clements has Mercury and Venus, mother of Eros. His stories have to follow the rules of romance; attraction, love, and the kiss to seal it.
His Mercury in Aries pulls in Virgo in his house of romance.
His romance is with storytelling; that’s what he does behind the scenes.
He says that when he watched Pinocchio for the first time, he wanted to be an animator, bring stories to life.
Capricorn is in his ninth house of higher learning, and in Capricorn, Saturn makes us labour long and hard before we see the fruits. Saturn joins Capricorn with Libra in his house of apprenticeship, and he trained long and hard under the Disney animators of the golden age, the best of the best. They passed the baton on to him.
When he looks into the mirror of his first house, Mars pulls in his seventh house of partners, and Jupiter pulls in the eleventh house of the social groups he belongs to; the family of artists that is Disney. He cannot separate himself from the people who gave him the magic of animation,
he cannot separate himself from the history.
Mercury’s rulership of Aries among that ancient group of astrologers didn’t last. Rulership was assigned when a sign consistently brought out more than two qualities of a planet.
Kay Nielsen has Mercury in Aries and a Pisces Sun. He was a Danish illustrator of fairytales; words inspired his art, and music did too. He worked on Disney’s Fantasia and illustrated the spooky Night on Bald Mountain.
When Ron Clements’ idea for the Little Mermaid was chosen, someone remembered Kay Nielsen’s drawings of the Little Mermaid. Disney had intended to make a sequence of vignettes based on Andersen’s fairytales set to music, but the project was archived. Out of the archives came Nielsen’s drawings in 1985.
Cancer is in his fifth, Saturn in Cancer squaring the eighth and second house.
His romance was with those moments when he could be alone with a book, insulated and undisturbed, waiting for inspiration, for that eighth house journey of the mind when something was revealed, something about the story, an undercurrent he had missed, and he would surface in the second house knowing how to draw it.
He said that inspiration was mysterious, magical, an eighth house journey. He has Jupiter Uranus in Libra in the eighth, promising to reveal something to him, and he has Mercury in Aries in the second, guiding his hand to draw the revelation.
Scorpio is in his ninth house, and the rulers of Scorpio are in Virgo and Gemini. He studied art in Paris and improved his technique in England; he stayed up to date to be the best in a competitive field.
Despite his abilities, his perfectionism and focus on details, Disney let him go after four years. The war diminished the company’s coffers and there were budget cuts, and Kay Nielsen couldn’t keep up with deadlines. Magic doesn’t appear on command.
Perhaps he felt betrayed, but he couldn’t work under pressure. When he looked into the mirror of his first house, he knew he had to find a place of refuge, at least for a while; a place where the concerns of the outer world looked like fireworks.
This is the chart of the storyteller Orhan Pamuk.
Mercury was given rulership of Gemini because Gemini consistently brings out the qualities of the planet, the god. Orhan Pamuk meanders around cities looking for inspiration. He talks with people; people give him information he needs for his books, and he gives people information they need about literature and writing novels.
Virgo is on the cusp of his fifth, and Mercury was given rulership of Virgo too. Pamuk’s romance is with the craft of writing; he says that he doesn’t tell stories, he composes them.
Step further into his fifth, and there’s Libra with Saturn and Neptune. There is art and diplomacy in this combination, and he’s come to represent his country; people ask him about his books and his country.
Further down is Mars in Scorpio, and in his writing he explores the idea of belonging to a community. His characters often find themselves in situations where they must choose between following the crowd, or breaking away to follow their heart’s desire.
He broke away. He was studying architecture as planned, when he suddenly decided to be a writer. He gave his parents a shock. Aquarius is in his ninth house, ruled by Saturn and Uranus. He was doing what was expected of him, and then Uranus showed up.
It took him eighth years to publish his first book, and he now has many books published and is a Nobel Prize winner.
Four years ago, he began writing a historical novel set during the third plague pandemic of 1901. When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, people asked him to hurry up his novel. It was published this year in March, with Saturn and Jupiter in the sky transiting Aquarius, and Uranus in the sky conjunct his natal Jupiter in Taurus.
Chart for March 11, 2021
His ninth and eleventh house are active this year; he is bringing revelations to his readers.
The English translation will be out next year, and he will be busy; Jupiter in the sky will be transiting his tenth.
When he looks into the mirror of his first house, people call out to him,
Hey Gemini! Where are you going! What are you working on now!
This is the chart of Johann Friedrich Struensee, born August 5, 1737. He became King Christian VII of Denmark’s personal doctor, and used his influence over the king to bring change to the country.
He was a man of the Enlightenment, and ideas of the Enlightenment were considered taboo by the monarchy; they were ideas that spoke of freedom and threatened to diminish the power of the court and the nobility.
Sag is on the cusp of his fifth, and Sag is the natural ruler of the ninth house. Struensee had a thirst for knowledge; he was attracted to knowledge that was foreign to him. Uranus does not follow the crowd, and with Uranus in Sag, he broke away from the beliefs that he was brought up with. He was drawn to ideas that took him into the eighth house.
Jupiter, ruler of Sag and Pisces, joins the fifth to the eighth house.
Hercules at a crossroads is a painting by Annibale Carracci; Hercules choosing between vice and virtue.
Pleasures of the fifth house of romance and games of chance can turn into vice; they can lead us into the shadows of the eighth house, house of illicit love affairs, addiction, debt. It is also the house of what is considered taboo, and the house of magic, the magic arts that can influence another.
The eighth house is the house where we can get caught and where we can be rescued. In light, it is the house of rescue.
Jupiter joins the fifth to the eighth, and to the ninth house of beliefs. Pisces is on the cusp of his ninth, followed by Aries, and there is pioneership in Aries.
He studied medicine, and with his ideas of the enlightenment, he believed in respecting the nature of a person. He respected the nature of the king. They say that the king was mad and that he helped improve the king’s behaviour. He befriended the king and the queen and won their trust.
He was a man of rescue and a man of influence.
The greater his influence, the more changes he brought to the country. He abolished torture. He abolished censorship. He established a tax on gambling. He played in the eighth house. His romance was with the eighth house.
The eighth house trines the twelfth house of what happens behind the scenes, of rest and recovery, hospitals, prisons, exile.
Mercury is in the twelfth, and a lot happened behind the scenes in Struensee’s life. He worked in hospitals before he became the king’s personal doctor. He read the books of Rousseau and discussed the ideas of the Enlightenment in secret.
When he looked into the mirror of his first house, the Sun hovered between the twelfth and the first house in Leo. King but not king. A king behind the scenes, bringing secret beliefs into the light, turning them into laws, establishing a new order.
He had abolished censorship, and his friendship with the king and the queen was discussed openly. There were suspicions that he was having a love affair with the queen, and that her newborn daughter was his.
Although he improved the people’s condition, they say that the people turned against him; he had usurped the king’s authority and they wanted their king back. The court and nobility certainly did.
They were living in a time of change; monarchies were confronting the ideas of the Enlightenment.
The court and nobility began to plot against him, behind the scenes.
The arrest of Struensee
He was executed on April 28, 1772.
There is a grand trine in the chart; Pluto is in Capricorn, Uranus is in Taurus, and Neptune is in Virgo. The laws, the past and the rituals were under review.
In our times too, Pluto is in Capricorn and Uranus is in Taurus, but Neptune is in Pisces. We could say that the laws and the past are under review, as well as the beliefs that bring us together as a collective.
When Struensee was arrested, Jupiter in Aquarius squared Uranus in Taurus, and when he was executed, Jupiter was breaking away from the square, and Saturn in Leo squared Uranus in Taurus.
We could say that modernity and the ideals of the Enlightenment were held by Jupiter, and tradition and the rule of the monarch were held by Saturn. One offered laws that freed people from the past, and the other prevented change.
On the day Struensee was executed, the monarchy in Denmark asserted its power. Struensee’s laws were reversed and things went back to the way they were before.
But people had experienced the reforms and the seeds of change had been planted.
It was a time of change.
In our times, Jupiter and Saturn are both in Aquarius, bringing in new ideals and making old ones new.
When Saturn in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus have squared each other, we have experienced new laws that break away from the past, like school online, as well as the easing of the new laws and a partial return to the past.
Saturn and Uranus will form an exact square in December of this year and in October of next year, in retrograde and direct motion,
breaking away from the past and returning to the past.
A time of change.
school bus in the rain by Richard Fredericksen
Planets travel anti clockwise round the astrological chart, but Rahu and Ketu travel clockwise, 29 degrees of a sign to 0 degrees.
Rahu was at 3 degrees of Cancer on the day of 9/11. He entered 29 degrees of Gemini on October 13, 2001, when the war on terror was underway.
Rahu was at 4 degrees of Cancer on March 11, 2020, when the WHO characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. He entered 29 degrees of Gemini on May 5, 2020, when the race for a vaccine was underway.
Rahu and Ketu are not planets; they are lunar nodes, shadows of the Moon, the head and tail of a dragon.
Charts show the head and not the tail, but if the head is at 4 degrees of Gemini, where it is today, the tail is at 4 degrees of Sag, across from Gemini.
Rahu and Ketu have been in the Gemini Sag polarity during this whole pandemic.
They were in the Gemini Sag polarity after 9/11, from October 13, 2001, to April 14, 2003. A year and a half.
They are points of emotional intensity that highlight the polarity we are all working with as a collective. They bring up the defensive structures of the signs in the polarity.
Every sign has built in defensive structures.
In Gemini, there is Castor and there is Pollux; horsemen. Castor was a horse tamer and Pollux was a boxer. They were athletic; patrons of athletes.
They were always on a rescue mission; gods of rescue; protectors of warriors in battle and sailors at sea.
Castor and Pollux fighting at the Battle of Lake Regillus by John Reinhard Weguelin
In Gemini, there is Helen and there is Clytemnestra.
Helen was the most beautiful woman and she had many suitors. Her father Tyndareus worried about what would happen when she chose one among them, and so he had them all swear an oath to defend the chosen one against anyone who did him wrong.
She chose Menelaus.
Then came a wedding banquet on Mount Olympus and Eris wasn’t invited. She threw a golden apple with the words, To the fairest. To win the apple, Venus promised Paris the most beautiful woman; Helen.
Paris took Helen to Troy and she mobilized an army.
Gemini can recruit people and mobilize an army.
Paris takes Helen to Troy by Gavin Hamilton
Then there are the qualities that tie Gemini to Mercury; gathering information and seeing the connections; gathering information and questioning the information gathered; poking holes. No one can poke holes better than Gemini.
Mercury with the signs of Gemini and Virgo by Pietro Facchetti
There is a fierceness in Sagittarius, in the chief ancestor, in Pabilsag.
He begins in Mesopotamia carrying traits of Scorpio, as a Scorpion man. Seated beside him is the goddess Nintinugga and her dog. Nintinugga, goddess of healing, a physician, and Pabilsag who led the souls of the dead to that other place in the milky way.
Later on he was represented as a winged centaur, with the tail of a scorpion, and some think the head of a dog, the dog of the goddess of healing, and always his bow and arrow.
He had medicine to heal and wings to facilitate the ascension of souls; he had rational thought and wildness, and the company of a dog.
With time he was trimmed down to what the centaur is today, but always holding the bow and arrow to pierce the limits of what we know.
Shepherding and the nomadic consciousness that goes along with it are part of the Sag archetype.
A sedentary consciousness has a settled gaze, conditioned to see sameness in the landscape.
A nomadic consciousness has an unsettled gaze; it notices changes in the landscape; it searches the landscape for the possibility of food and shelter, and for any indication of danger.
Centauric space is a space of exploration, a search for knowledge.
It can be when we’re out walking the dog, lost in thought,
and when Jupiter touches the centaur,
it can be out at sea, shepherding a fleet to new horizons, relying on the fusion of human and horse to get there safely.
The discovery of the Straits of Magellan in 1520
On January 18, 2022, Rahu will enter Taurus and Ketu will enter Scorpio, and the Taurus Scorpio polarity will be highlighted.
In Taurus, there are stories of desire, Eros, and what Taurus does with it.
There is the story of Inanna Ishtar in love with Gilgamesh; her direct proposal that he become her lover, and Gilgamesh’s outright rejection. He told her that she mistreated her lovers; did not give them the gift of immortality. Angered by his rejection, she made the sky god Anu unleash the raging Bull of Heaven.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeating the Bull of Heaven by Rebecca Yanovskaya
The bull caused a lot of destruction, but before unleashing him, Anu had ensured that the people of Uruk had enough provisions to last seven years.
There is the story of Jupiter in love with Europa, daughter of the king of Phoenicia. Jupiter disguised himself as a bull and approached her slowly.
Whenever she and a group of friends were in the field, he was there and they noticed him. He stood out among the other cows and bulls. He smelled nice, his breath was sweet, his bellows were beautiful, his hair was soft.
She leaned on him, sat on him to make him a garland,
and he raised himself and she put her arms around him. By then she knew, she could feel in her body that he was no ordinary bull, and he carried her off to Crete.
He loved her there and made her queen and she gave birth to his children.
To protect her in Crete, he gave her Talos the automaton, a javelin that never missed, and Laelaps, a dog that always caught his prey.
There is the story of Minos who prayed to Neptune for a bull that would secure his rulership of Crete. A magnificent bull rose from the sea and Minos became the undisputed king, but he did not sacrifice the bull back to Neptune; he sacrificed a lesser bull.
To punish him, Neptune made his wife Pasiphae fall madly in love with the bull. She was inflamed with passion and desire, and she accessed the artistry and technology available in Taurus to mate with the bull.
The result of their union was the minotaur.
What happened next depends on the storyteller and the time period. The ancients said that as the minotaur grew older, he became more and more dangerous. Afraid to offend Neptune again, Minos would not kill him. Instead, he contained him in a labyrinth beneath the palace. The minotaur was, after all, his responsibility.
Then there are these paintings, not of people, but of the animals that surrounded them; an intimacy with the animal world. They were painted in caves, and some were painted in the deepest recesses, protected from the elements that might destroy them.
Uranus is in Taurus.
The Lascaux caves were discovered when Saturn, Jupiter and Uranus were in Taurus. A teenage boy was out walking his dog, and his dog went down a hole.
The caves changed the way we saw our ancestors; we understood that they had Eros, that Eros was behind the search for food, the sharpening of a stick, the search for a cave that would protect them, a cave where they could paint.
Next year, Uranus and Rahu will be in Taurus,
and Ketu will be in Scorpio.