Hey, Baby, What’s Your Sign? Want to Check Out my Van?

It is a fact in journalism that some things never get old. Stories about today’s young people are evergreen: Are they hopeless screw-ups? Do they possess a brilliant new world-saving vision? Or both? Or neither?

Live long enough, and everything recycles, like platform shoes (they were popular in the 17th century too, not that I remember that far back). Here is a piece on “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology.”

Astrology has been debunked by numerous academic studies, but Banu Guler, co-founder of artificial intelligence powered astrology app Co—Star said the lack of structure in the field is exactly what drives young, educated professionals to invest their time and money in the practice.

Take out the word “app,” and that sounds like the early 1970s to me, another “tumultuous political time” (Vietnam War, resignation of President Nixon, etc.)

And speaking of the Seventies, when I knew people who did it, here is a snarky piece in the New York Post titled “Meet the pretentious millennials who romanticize living in vans.”

Twenty-four years ago, calling your car home was Plan Z. Now it’s a generation’s greatest aspiration.

Copiously illustrated with photos of beautifully restored VW campers, both air-cooled buses and water-cooled Vanagons, the article would produce a predictable result from M., who still laments that we sold the 1984 Vanagon camper that we owned from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.

“I could put it up by myself!” she would say. #Vanlife.

And so she could, but the only mechanic in Nearby Town who would work on fiddly European fuel-injection systems had been about to retire.1)He was a treasure, though, and people knew it. I would walk into his shop, where the radio was always on the classical music station, and there would be an Aston-Martin or a Maserati. “I had no idea that anyone in [Blank] County owned one of these!” I would say. “Oh yeah,” he would reply.

So I sold the Vanagon to a guy up in Fort Collins, thanks to the Internet, and got something with four-wheel-drive. Volkswagen did make an all-wheel-drive Vanagon, the Synchro, and while fishing in the mountains last June I found a nicely restored example parked at a trailhead.

I complimented the owner on his van, and he launched into a list of all the systems on it that he had rebuilt. “You have to be a mechanic,” he said.

No, thanks. On the old VWs, maybe. Nowadays I do some work on my old Jeep CJ-5, and everything else goes to the pros.

If you hanker after an older VW bus or Vanagon, I think the the place to be is New Mexico, where both they and people who will work on them seem to end up.

And, since you asked, Gemini.

Notes   [ + ]

1. He was a treasure, though, and people knew it. I would walk into his shop, where the radio was always on the classical music station, and there would be an Aston-Martin or a Maserati. “I had no idea that anyone in [Blank] County owned one of these!” I would say. “Oh yeah,” he would reply.

Pentagram Pizza Cut into 12 Slices

• Everything old is new againyoung Chinese discover the Western zodiac and think that it is cooler than “Year of the Monkey,” etc.

• “Witchcrap” from The Daily Beast website — “These Modern Witches Want to Cast a Spell on You.”

Modern witchcraft combines feminism, self-help, and wellness. But is there more to it than pretty crystals, stunning Instagram pictures, and lucrative business opportunities?

I think that’s called “fake news.”

• From Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery blog:American Gods: The Jersey Devil and the Pines Witch.”   This post was part of “The American Gods Project” — read the rest. “Truly, all sorcery is local.”

• In Albania, they stop the Evil Eye with plushies. Truly, all sorcery is local.

Remembering Ed Steinbrecher and His Esoteric School

Ed Steinbrecher (1980s?)

Looking for something in the bedroom Craft/astrology/Tarot/magick bookshelves this morning, I ran across a copy of Edwin Steinbrecher’s The Guide Meditation. (It’s still available from Samuel Weiser and it’s good.)

I checked with Dr. Google and discovered that Steinbrecher, an astrologer and occult teacher, had passed away in 2002 — here is an obituary from the Los Angeles Times. 

What the obituary does not say is that in between founding his DOME (Dei Omnes Munda Edunt) astrology and meditation center in Santa Fe in 1973 and moving to Los Angeles in 1984, he and co-founder/partner David Benge lived in Colorado Springs for a time.

Imagine a typical 1970s split-level house, with what would be the living room and dining room filled with bookcases — and all the books organized by zodiacal sign, so that gardening, for instance, would be in the Virgo section. So much more mystical than my habit of putting, say, all the books on Colorado and New Mexico history together! (What Sun sign would encompass them?)

M. and I attended various talks and workshops at the DOME house. Ed was passionate about astrology, and this was the time in my life when I was deepest into it. Later, under pressure of graduate school, etc., I decided that something had to give, and that something was astrology, so I stopped doing people’s charts — these days, I might manage to check my transits once in a while. The last astrology lecture I heard was by Liz Greene (who is one of the best Jungian astrologers) in 2004.

But his Inner Guide Meditation system has a Tarot connection, and that is drawing me back to it. It will be intriguing to re-read the book.

The Passing of Carl Weschcke


Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

First, the official announcement from Llewellyn, then my comments.

It is with profound sadness we share the news of Carl Llewellyn Weschcke’s passing. He passed peacefully on Saturday, November 7 surrounded by family. He was 85.

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke was Chairman and the driving force behind Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., the oldest and largest publishers of New Age, Metaphysical, Self-Help, and Spirituality books in the world.

Weschcke was a life-long student of a broad range of Metaphysical, Spiritual and Occult subjects which led him to the purchase of the Llewellyn publishing company in 1961. He relocated the company to his home on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. The mansion was said to be haunted and became the subject of many investigations and news stories through the 1960s and 1970s and remains well-known to this day.

Authors and booksellers referred to Weschcke as “the Father of the New Age” because of his early and aggressive public sponsorship of Astrology, Magic, Metaphysics, Paganism, Parapsychology, Tantra, Wicca and Yoga. Weschcke and Llewellyn contributed to the burgeoning New Age movement in the 1960s and 1970s, sponsoring Gnosticon Festivals, opening an occult school and bookstore, and publishing the occult newspaper Gnostica. He is a former Wiccan High Priest and played a leading role in the rise of Wicca and Paganism during the 1960s and 1970s. In the fall of 1973 Weschcke helped organize the Council of American Witches and became its chairperson.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Babson College, studied Law at LaSalle University, and advanced study toward a doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Minnesota. In 1959 he was elected president of the NAACP’s Minnesota branch and elected Vice President of the ACLU’s Minnesota branch. In addition to book publishing he has worked in the pharmaceutical industry, furniture manufacture, and real estate management. With Llewellyn, he has worked in all aspects of the business and has co-authored ten books with Dr. Joe Slate of Athens, Alabama.

Carl is survived by wife Sandra and son Gabe. Sandra is President and Treasurer of Llewellyn Worldwide and Gabe serves as Vice President. They plan to carry on Carl’s legacy championing of alternative approaches to mind, spirit and body.

Arrangements for a memorial will be forthcoming.

I had the privilege of staying with the Weschckes at their home in Marine-on-St. Croix for a few days in the early 1990s. (Although no formal offer was made, I think that Carl was hoping that I would come on board as an editor.) That four-book “Witchcraft Today” series that I edited for them in the 1990s was his idea.

It’s true that he came from a line of German doctors and pharmacists, and originally he worked in the family pharmaceutical firm that made over-the-counter medicines—cough drops and the like. He told me he used to look from his office window at a former soft-drink bottling plant—the building that later become the Llewellyn headquarters in St. Paul.

He did not start the company, but he and Sandra grew it from a small publisher of astrological almanacs and the like into its present form. He even added “Llewellyn” as his middle name.

Another memory: having just a few hours to examine his private library, which filled a three-car garage (or was it a four-car?). It was like the whole history of esotericism in America, but I think that astrology was perhaps always his first love. Although their son, Gabe, was groomed to take over the business, at that time—twenty years ago—I did not feel that he shared the love of the astrology, Pagan, New Age, etc., product line. That does not mean that he cannot be an effective manager though.

Spica, Online Cultural Astrology Journal, Launched

The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales Trinity St. David (formerly at Bath Spa University College) now has an online journal, Spica, with work by students in the MA program in cultural astronomy and astrology.

Spica is available as a free PDF here.

Articles in the premier issue include “An investigation into how counsellors/psychotherapists respond to clients who introduce astrological beliefs into therapy sessions” and “Do consumers of astrological services use astrology as a method of actively seeking divine guidance? If so, what astrological services are sought for the purpose? A Pilot Study.”

CFP: Culture and Cosmos

Call for papers . . .


Vol. 17,  no. 1: Literature and the Stars

We are inviting submissions for Vol. 17 no 1 (Spring/Summer 2013) on Literature and the Stars. Papers may focus on any time period or culture, and should deal either with representations of astronomy or astrology in fiction, or studies of astronomical or astrological texts as literature. Contributions may focus on western or non-western culture, and on the ancient, medieval or modern worlds.

Papers should be submitted by NOVEMBER 15, 2012. They should typically not exceed 8000 words length and should be submitted to editors@cultureandcosmos.org. Shorter submissions and research notes are welcome.

Contributors should follow the style guide. 

Please include an abstract of c. 100-200 words.

All submissions will peer-reviewed for originality, timeliness, relevance, and readability. Authors will be notified as soon as possible of the acceptability of their submissions.

Culture and Cosmos is published in association with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales, SA48 7ED, UK.

As from Vol. 17 no 1 Culture and Cosmos will be published open-access, on-line, in the interests of open scholarship. Hard copy will be available via print-on-demand.

Your Aries Horoscope: Go Directly to Jail

Police in southwestern Ontario crunch some arrest numbers and note that they arrest more suspects with Sun in Aries than any other sign.

Const. Pearce, who produced the data, concedes, “Next year the list could be completely different unless we arrest the same people.”

Astrology Conference Book Available for Preorder

From the announcement:

The ‘Astrologies’ conference, organised by the Sophia Centre, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on 24-25 July 2010 was the first gathering of academics working in the history and culture of modern astrology. The range of topics explored in the publication of the conference proceedings is broad, and reflects the strik ing diversity of techniques and underlying philosophies which underlie the enduring human perception of meaningful relationships between the heavenly bodies and life on earth. Although astrology has been treated in many scholarly works as a monolithic entity, all of the papers in this book demonstrate one of the paradoxes of astrological thought and practice: the existence of a relative ly stable tradition of cosmological and astral representations and ideas combined with a adaptability that has enabled astrologies to meld with different  spheres of human endeavour in a variety of cultures. The papers are grouped into three basic themes: the symbolism of astrologies, the history of astrologies within different cultural con texts, and the practice of various astrologies from both ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ perspectives.

Contents and ordering information here.

Making Retrograde Mercury Your Friend

I’ve been reading Diana Rajchel’s “Mercury Retrograde Boot Camp Series” (this is no. 9). Some good stuff there.

For this, the practical and metaphysical reason is the same:

You clear your path from things that were scattering your attention. Now, the things that need your attention get it faster. That’s immediately more time, attention and energy you can use for a) the people you want to give your attention to and b) for yourself.

I actually am usually productive during these periods. It is just that everyone else is so damn slow.

Esoteric Poetry Competition Announced

News release:


YOU ARE INVITED TO SEND short poems of up to eight lines (not including the title) on an esoteric subject. These may refer in a general sense to ‘inner’ knowledge, this may be esoteric in the sense of inner knowledge as in:





but may also be understood in relation to the experience of seeking an understanding of an unending number of life’s challenges or disciplines: justice, plumbing, child rearing and the perfect omelette spring to mind.

Poems may for example reveal hitherto unknown secrets, conceal them, or relate to the subject matter in another way. All poems will be judged solely on literary merit

Competition sponsored by
The Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism

In conjunction with Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge, UK
and Waterloo Press www.waterloopresshove.co.uk

1st £300
2nd £150
3rd £75

SEE www.ccwe.wordpress.com
ENTRY PAGE for details of terms and conditions and how to enter.

Prize winners will be announced at Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge, UK Thursday 18th November 2010 and on this website later that evening and by email the following day. Winners unable to attend the heffers prize-giving evening at heffers will be sent their prizes via paypal in GBP. CLOSING DATE FOR ONLINE ENTRIES: 15 SEPTEMBER, 2010 midnight GMT

see JUDGES PAGE for details of the judges
Daniel Healy
Helen Ivory
Jon Woodson
contact: Sophia Wellbeloved: esotericpoetry@googlemail.com

Dr Sophia Wellbeloved
Director, Lighthouse Editions

Director, The Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism www.ccwe.wordpress.com

CCWE is  independent of any academic or esoteric communities, the co-ordinators share an interest in the need for a wider dialogue between scholars and practitioners in the field of Western Esotericism and in the establishment of a secular space in which an interdisciplinary network can thrive.   From 2009 CCWE has operated within Lighthouse editions Limited, a small publishing company Directors: Dr Sophia Wellbeloved, Jeremy Cranswick – see http://gurdjieffbooks.wordpress.com