What I Did on 8-8-8

I picked up lots of interesting odds and ends on what has become my annual pilgrimage to Lily Dale, N.Y., considered the home of American Spiritualism.

Patricia Bell’s workshop on manifesting the dream at 8:08 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2008 began with a wedding that caught some of the workshop’s participants off-guard. I thought it was wonderful celebration.

After members of the wedding party and spiritual sojourners alike sampled the delicious wedding cake, San Diego astrologer Kenneth D. Miller talked about the relationship between 8 and Saturn and provided a brief overview of Vedic astrology.

Bell was the fairy godmother of the event, bestowing blessings on the happy couple and presiding over rituals and exercises to help everyone manifest their own dream. The icing on the cake? Bell’s introduction to the Chinese design philosophy feng shui.

Recently, one of my commenters accused me of being on the “wrong side of history,” and that was certainly the case on Aug. 8. In order to attend Bell’s workshop and the wedding, I had to pass up watching the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics, which took place at 8:08 p.m. Thanks heavens for YouTube, which will allow me to watch the spectacular performance at my leisure, on my laptop.

Being a financially-oriented (if not accomplished) Capricorn, my “takeaway” for the weekend came during a reading that Bell, one of Lily Dale’s registered mediums, did for me.

I don’t know if this was Spirit or Bell talking, but somebody pointed out that real estate prices will continue to decline until the Nodes, which are currently in the middle of Aquarius/Leo, make their way back through Capricorn/Cancer from August 2009 to February 2011.

So if you’re looking to buy property at bargain prices, the best time to do it will be when the North Node is in Capricorn and the South Node is in Cancer, says Bell.

Barbara Hand Clow and Gerry Clow were in Lily Dale for the weekend, but alas my schedule didn’t permit me to attend their seminar. I did pick up a copy of Hand Clow’s book, The Mayan Code: Time Acceleration and Awakening the World Mind in the Lily Dale bookstore, though.

With the recent crop circle in Avebury, England, corresponding to the end day of the Mayan calendar, Dec. 21, 2012, I decided I need to learn more about Mayan lore.

Here’s my own 8-8-8 story. Last week, I went to the library and randomly checked out a book called Two Lives, a memoir by Vikram Seth. You may remember Seth as the author of A Suitable Boy, the epic novel about an Indian widow’s matchmaking odyssey on behalf of her daughter. On Aug. 6, as I was preparing for my 8-8-8 getaway, I read the following line:

“Shanti Behari Seth was born on the eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year of the twentieth century.”

Now, what are the chances of that? About one in 8 million, I’d guess.

Gone Fishin’

Tomorrow, Aug. 8, 2008, my friend Patricia and I are driving to Lily Dale, N.Y. for Patricia Bell’s seminar at 8:08 p.m. We’ll be fishing for spiritual inspiration and trying to tap the power of 8.

I met Patricia Bell at the United Astrology Conference in Denver back in May, so this trip is yet another great thing that came out of attending UAC. By the way, the pictures from UAC are now up. You can see them here.

In the interest of communing with the spirits that are said to inhabit Lily Dale, I’m leaving my laptop at home. So if Amy Winehouse dies of a drug overdose or there’s an earthquake in Beijing during opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, I won’t be able to write about it till Sunday, Aug. 10. Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

I’m really doing it: I’m turning off my computer right now.

Don’t Pass Up Passing Strange

Readers of this blog know that I like to go out on a limb and make predictions. Some come true (Jayhawks to beat Tarheels in the NCAA Final Four, Kansas to win the Final Four), others don’t (Tiger Woods to win a Grand Slam in the same year, David Archuleta to win American Idol).

Tonight, I’ll have my fingers crossed for a Leo named Stew, the star of Passing Strange, the Broadway show that has been nominated for seven Tony Awards. Back in April, I predicted that Stew and Company would take home at least one Tony. (See “Stew, Meet Tony,” April 17, 2008, https://astrologymundo.wordpress.com/2008/04/17/stew-meet-tony/)

Even though I have been talking up Stew in previous posts based on his favorable transits of tonight, II hadn’t actually seen his show, a musical meditation on what it means to be black in America, until yesterday. And boy, it knocked me out!

To discover his blackness, Stew travels to Amsterdam and Berlin and poses as a refugee from the ghetto, when in fact he has grown up in a comfortable African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles.

It’s a wild, rollicking ride with first-rate performers. This show hasn’t caught fire, but I still think it will (if not here, then overseas), given Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s meteoric rise on the U.S. political scene. (The use of the word “hopeful” is intentional. Although Obama has surpassed the number of electoral votes needed to clinch the nomination, he will not actually be the Democratic Party’s nominee until after the August convention.)

Stew is a light-skinned black who goes to live among Northern Europeans, while Obama’s mother was white. Both have asked themselves the question: What does it mean to be black?

Black entertainers, from blues singers to Motown’s greats to today’s rappers, have helped define American values and style. But the de facto segregation of whites and blacks in this country has allowed powerful media figures to define black identity, whether it be through blaxploitation films like Superfly and Shaft in the Seventies to the black sitcoms like Martin and Living Single that were hits on Fox TV before it went white (http://fun.familyeducation.com/television/african-americans/35259.html).

A case in point: While everyone was celebrating Michelle and Barack Obama’s playful victory bump of fists, I found myself asking: Is this their secret handshake or is this a black thing that I wouldn’t understand? The truth is, I don’t know the answer. Maybe if I were a regular watcher of Oprah, I would.

The fact is even though I work at the same company and live on the same street as African-Americans, our worlds rarely intersect. In my life, I’ve had a couple of good black girlfriends (especially back in the days of the Jackson Five), but not since college.

Until I moved to New York, I could have made the same statement about gay people. But through media and astrology, I’ve made some close gay friends. That’s what I love about astrology. It brings together people of different persuasions, all searching for the truth. Maybe my cosmic pursuits will bring me some black friends too.

Stew’s musical journey in Passing Strange raises some deep issues. I left the show, which essentially is a tribute to his mother, wondering: Who is Stew’s father and why is he never mentioned, not even in passing? As is the case for Obama and many other black men, it appears that Stew was raised by his mother, who devoted all her love and attention to her son.

Though it appears Stew’s Mom helped form his character (clearly this is a self-made man in many ways), astrologers and psychologists know that even when a parent is dead or no longer participating in the family, he or she still exerts a powerful influence.

Interesting that on Father’s Day, my ode to Stew turns into an essay on fatherhood.

I visited my Dad last month in Santa Fe. He makes his home in the veterans’ national cemetery there, though my medium Gretchen Clark in Lily Dale, N.Y., informs me that he’s happily eating popcorn and watching movies in the afterworld, a fitting pastime for a Pisces. We miss you, Dad!

What Will You Be Doing on Aug. 8, 2008 at 8:08 p.m.?

I’m not very knowledgeable about numerology, but evidently the number 8 is considered to be quite fortunate, especially by Asians. There’s even a New York Times reporter whose legal name is Jennifer 8. Lee and she uses this as her byline. Belief in the power of 8 has led the Chinese to schedule opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics on Aug. 8, 2008 at 8:08 p.m. local time. I’m going to run this chart and deal with it in a separate post.

Last night, at a cocktail party hosted by the Tempe (Ariz.)-based American Federation of Astrologers at the United Astrology Conference in Denver, I met Patricia Bell, a clairvoyant who lives in the spiritual community of Lily Dale, N.Y. (www.lilydaleassembly.com). Bell will be hosting a seminar on the symbolism of 8-8-8 on — you guessed it! — Aug. 8, 2008 at 8 p.m.

The same weekend, Barbara Hand Clow and Gerry Clow will be doing a workshop on Journeys Through Nine Dimensions. (It doesn’t conflict with Bell’s session.)

I love the energy in Lily Dale, which is just outside Jamestown, N.Y., the hometown of Lucille Ball. For the past three years, I’ve made a pilgrimage to Lily Dale for a psychic reading with Gretchen Clark.

I even dragged my husband to see Gretchen. He was skeptical until she told him that his father really appreciated the fact that my husband had dropped his Dad’s favorite watch in the coffin right before the burial. He came out of Gretchen’s charming Victorian house a believer before backsliding into cynicism. To wit: His first call to me at UAC started with the question: “How are things in Salem?” (No, dear, we’re not witches; we’re astrologers.)

I’ve sent friends to Lily Dale with mixed results. Some don’t like the church revival feel of the place, which is down the road from the biggest revival camp of them all, Chautauqua Institution. Today, Chautauqua is synonymous (look it up in the dictionary!) with lifelong learning and has moved far away from the Ole Time Religion for which it was once famous. 

Other friends don’t like Lily Dale because it’s a bit ramshackle, but I like shabby chic Victorian gingerbread architecture.

I got interested in Lily Dale after reading Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead by Christine Wicker, which traces the history of the spiritual community from its days of table rappers in the Victorian age to its modern-day hippy-dippy incarnation.

During the summer, the narrow lanes of Lily Dale are filled mostly with middle-aged women wearing tie-dyed T-shirts who are trying to communicate with loved ones on the other side. Since this basically describes me, I fit right in.  

No trip to Lily Dale is complete without a visit to the Lucy and Desi museums and landmarks in Jamestown, whose refurbished downtown was a recent finalist in the Main Street competition held by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (http://www.mainstreet.org/).

Last year, I passed through Lily Dale and Jamestown during Lucy-Desi Days, which are held every Memorial Day weekend. This event brings out the faithful in busloads to celebrate Lucy’s contribution to show business. It’s a weekend of high camp, that’s for sure.

Another big day in Jamestown is Lucy’s birthday, Aug. 6. Given that most tourists like weekend events, you can be sure that Aug. 8 will be a big day in Jamestown and Lily Dale, as well as in Beijing. Are you surprised that Lucy was a Leo? I’m not.

It’s never too early to start planning what you’re going to do to capture the power of 8 on Aug. 8, 2008. Maybe I’ll finally get out from behind the 8 ball.