Hih-fes-tuhs (Old sign: Libra) Last month was rough even if it wasn’t that rough. You feel beat up right down to the ground and you still need a Halloween costume. You’ve gone as a variation yourself the last few years: dock worker, merchant seaman, foreman, labor union rep… It’s getting boring and dangerous, Hephaestus, and your rigidity is affecting all of those born under your wrought iron sign. I wish you could do something daring this month. It is a wish, not a command. Put that iron sign in your forge and make of thee something more flexible than cold metal. On Halloween we must wear the mask so that the ghosts of our ancestors do not recognize us and try to steal from our entropic pool. You have not been sneaky enough and some cousins made off with some entroplasm. Come up with something antithetical to your being and make a costume out of it. What would they least expect? Uncontacted native? World champion sprinter? Better make something for that limp. Fashion a device to correct your limp from the wrought iron of your sign and hammer your bespoke work as though you were creating a living limb from clay.
Ter (Old sign: Scorpio) Celebrate your dead with dignity. With sugar skulls and flowers on gravestones. With offerings bestrewn at the foot of the goddess. With sacrifice and sweat. You are playing for the highest reward or lowly defeat. Mars is finally correcting its course; hence, you may let down your defenses some. But remember to wear the mask when the veil is thin. There are some recruiters who may make you still! When you are someplace safe, you may remove the mask but keep it handy! Immerse yourself in history, preferably a period during which you forebears lived. Preferably an event they participated in. I will share that my devotion goes to an ancestor of mine who went to war. I will not say which; it does not matter. I will take the pain of that event upon myself. I will read all the stories there are, watch all the documentaries I can find. I might even watch the History Channel for laughs. But I will emerge from this meditation with renewed understanding and appreciation for my ancestors. Then I will smash the sugar skulls and put a little in my tea and take my children to trick-or-treat. I will know my neighbors during this incarnation. I promised my ancestor I would.
Shang-te (Old sign: Sagitarius) Death is king this season, and never forget that in all your genuflecting it is Death before whom you kneel! Just kidding! Fuck Death right in his empty eye holes! Burn both ends with a blowtorch. Work hard! Play hard! Recover! Do not let the fires go out this October, Shan-Ti. Your subjects are depending on the light in the darkness. Can you still muster an army to bivouac and light thy great braziers for thee? I wish I knew how to quantify this task for you. 583 million living souls were born under your sign you need 1000 fires per million souls. Always better to overestimate in the season of death. Invite 25, plan for fifty. It’s amazing how fast the beds fill up. Go to a football squadron and break their plastic tables.
Gih-na-sha (Old sign: Capricorn) You cannot think yourself out of this one. You are not some Walter White or a Gavrilo Princip but you are close. You function better in the armchair of academia, in the office, in the boardroom, on the PTA than staring down a crisis. Deep breaths! Can we be frank, Ganesha? The mind is powerful and wisdom important but there are some situations where you need an animal. I know somewhere in that giant neural palace of yours there lies the memory of a youthful stampede through a market. Oh it was glorious! Like Indiana Jones barrelling through the bazaar. Smashed paper lanterns, smashed wine jugs, smashed melons, smashed shopkeeps, smashed storefronts. You may need to conjure this memory. The animal spirit may dwell in you yet!
Hahp-e (Old sign: Aquarius) The wheat berries are blood red. And you fumble in the dark. The berries are crying at the arrival of dawn! Down into the steam with you, Hapi! A little self-care in the sulphur springs will pay dividends for your allotment in Spring. Fecundity is a fleeting mistress. Sometimes you only glimpse her from the corner of your eye and then only partially: her hair flowing in the wind and the hindquarters of her horse kicking up the trail toward her next destination. But do not wait for inspiration! The bleeding is over. Set your burdens down. The horses dream of clover, and the barren land is brown.
Hehk-eht (Old sign: Pisces) The waters are cold and wine dark. You know if you can survive the lean times, when the veil is thin, you will survive the winter. Count each kernel of grain. Ration and then ration again. You will find peace in remembering one of your forebears. Study what scraps of their history that you can and sacrifice something important to you in their name. Make a permanent record of the sacrifice to remind yourself of what you lost. Loss aversion bites hardest in the wintertide. Cold mists already blanket the morn. Your flock’s fleece is thick but you worry for the lambs. You must enlist more protection for your charge. The wolves are circling; their howl rides on a wild wind. A mountain lion has answered curiosity’s call. Stalking, stalking circumscribing your hamlet. You nervously check off the days on the Shepherd’s Calendar; you know you’ve put too much faith in the Almanac. Think for yourself and do what your ancestors did! Enlist the dead! What have they to do?
Kah-le (Old sign: Aries) There’s a feeling I get when I look to the West and that feeling is reactive health care. Maybe it’s not in your cultural nature to prevent your own annihilation. Remember: hospital TV is horrible. Hospital music is a war crime. So many normal things are horrible in hospital, the obvious being nutrition, followed by AC systems blowing the breath of contagion all over every ward, followed by super bacteria. These horrors are just the tip of the hospital deep dicking. This is also where an observational comic might say, “and what’s the deal with flesh-eating bacteria? When did they develop a taste for fresh meat? Were they vegetarian before and then decided they were anemic and needed to fortify their diet? So, despite moral objections, for the survival of their species, they reluctantly decided to eat flesh. Speaking of taste. What kind of TV shows do the dead like? Do they watch cooking shows pining for a smack of sweet mint chutney with tender chops of young sheep? Or do they like crime dramas, some yellow dollop of justice? Do the dead have any tastes other than that for your blood?” The laughter would get nervous and awkward. Add to their spectral ranks, oh ye, weak mortals! As Halloween approaches, try to think of what the dead might like for entertainment. Think to your talents! If you are tone deaf, don’t sing them a song! If you have one leg but are light on your foot, dance a one-legged jig! If you are color blind, paint in grayscale! Prepare an offering for the dead from your strongest talent! They will accept nothing less.
Ah-naht (Old sign: Taurus) October is your hunting ground, Anat. You will track your mark through valley and dale, over hills and heath. The stones will sing with the chase. But it’s too soon to divvy up the skins and taste the roasted meats of the kill. Be grateful that you are in the hunt at all! Remember how you hate field dressing; but that back strap is the best part of the hind by far. Before you taste your kill, you will be socked in by fogs both literal and mental. You will turn to something wicked to give you an edge. Do not be in too much of a hurry to tree your quarry! In your race to the end of the month, you must account for the dead. Everyone knows the veil is thin in the Hallowtide. In the thick forest, you might step through and join the ranks of spectral hunters to chase your prey for eternity. But if you are successful, give your hounds the best feast you can spare.
Eh-shu (Old sign: Gemini) Eshu, you have studied the stars and you want to believe the universe is stringy. There are many in your camp. Many lend credence to the Alloneness of a Universe concatenated through unimaginably small and unsettlingly numerous webs and networks of strings, looking all the world like the opening of a great sandwich of grilled cheese, binding all creation together. I may be in your camp, but it is not my place to tell you. You and your camp may be correct and you may be incorrect. Does this dizzying reticulation of strings make a sound? Are there countless multitudes of tiny symphonies surrounding and permeating our total existence? Do the strings connect space and time or just space alone? Are there strings in my leg, old chap? Meditate until you hear the strings.
Tah-na (Old sign: Cancer) Let us take a moment to be grateful for our solar system. It takes 240 million years for the Sun to complete one galactic orbit, a galactic year. The last time we were on the other side of the Milky Way the dinosaurs were just beginning to dominate the globe. We must be grateful we are on the mammal side of the Milky Way. The reptilians will never overtake you, Tane’, nor the mammals. You are the eternal denominator of life on Earth. Whether the stars favor the mammals or the reptiles is no matter for you. You are living at the pace of the eroding rock and the melting stream and the lumbering transit of the Sun around our galaxy. Our bones mix with your limbs in the ruin and the ripening. You must think us such children! In this season of death, you are most impervious. Make of your skin a bark of stone. Make of your mind a canopy of hammered gold and gold enameling. Make of your liver a Fountain of Bethesda. Oh Heliosphere! Oh Heliosphere! Our Tanebaum ist protectat! At the edge of the Heliosphere there is a place where the solar wind no longer exerts adequate force even to push back atoms. In this in-between of captured interstellar vagabonds, ‘round the whole of our Sun’s domain, grows a womb of misfit atoms. But we have amniotic protections further still! Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter reign in the wanderlust of titans come to murder thee, Tane’. Just behold all their moons! Planet killers all! That is the only threat to you! Think of the countless sufferings life can face. Mass extinctions. Then multiply that until life dwindles to yeast in the dust. Tane’, may you outlast us all! Sacrifice something nice to the giants that protect us, preferably something you must kill.
Marutuk (Old sign: Leo) Your harvest is almost in and it’s wonderful. You are an everyman Marutuk. You had indiscretions in your youth but you are an old everyman now. The tendrils feel thinner this year. This poem appears on a cardstock mailer, but the message is for you; that much is clear. Jack O’Lanterns and jackalopes Will o’ The Wisp and isotopes What will this season of disease ye bring? Jolly Rogers and corpse tongue coins, Burnt out barns and tenderloins To souls a death knell the winter shall sing. Mr. Yuk and Mrs. Yuk attend the ghostly balls. Spirits drunk on spirit spirits deck the darkened halls! To lives well led the bells of warlocks ring. Splattered blood and gold cock rings May titillate and seize Upon your throat, a scrote! A moat! Leave the business to the bees! For all our years, ox ears! The dead have no pretty thing to cover their shame.
Kah-noom (Old sign: Virgo) You are dancing with the dead this month. Just accept it and for God’s sake do not refuse their coffin liquor! A mascarade will herald the coming of the ball. At midnight the dance begins: you will receive your dance card and suitors will line up to woo you. Who will be first? This decision is important because it can impact all of the other universes of choice that succeed it. You find the dance a little morbid at first, like masterbating to old-timey porn, but soon you realize the dead were just people and despite their heightened entropy and predilection for the living and coffin liquor, you have had a fine time. Shadow plays play upon the walls and some of the guests would prefer to just watch the dance of shadows. But you are brave and you embrace those withered souls. Cut a rug! Get jiggy! Twist! Shout! Do the floss! Do what you feel! The dead will love you for it.