Kah-noom (Old sign: Virgo) We need you, Khnum, now more than ever. I know you have no bones, but you are ready for this test. There is a cave, you know the cave I mean, a river runs through the cave for miles. At the end of the cave lie your bones encased in crystal. You will have to swim into the mouth of the cave but when you reach the first gallery and dry cave floor, you will place the seven grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms into the mortar there in the rock and grind them to dust with a wooden pestle. Squeeze two lemons upon the mushroom dust and mix well. After counting to 100, saying “1 Chichen Itza,” “2 Chichen Itza” and so on, for three cycles. Stir at the top of each cycle. At the end of the counting take the mixture in your cup and swallow it whole. You only have ten minutes to make it to your bones. For a whole day, you will assume your corporeal form, and I will allow you to ask me two questions. If one of the questions regards my identity, you shall lose all memory of the encounter with me and must venture out the way you came without your precious crystal bones. Hurry! Hurry! Someday tourists will frequent this cave and stomp all over, smashing your fungus cups and pissing in your granitic mortars. Hurry! You are almost to the bones. Have you thought of your questions? You have them, Khnum, you magnificent bastard! The bones are yours! Run them far away fro this place and lay them under a cacao grove. Then you may ask me your questions. You let the river take you. Untold miles of dark river pulling to a silent sea. Your crystal bones glow in the brackish water of soggy gallery. Then light slaps you upon the face more light than you’ve ever known and you are on a beach. It is pebbly and not sandy, you can be glad of that. Upon a bluff overlooking the sea. the cacao grove stands in silence. You ask your first question: “Why do we die?” I regret to inform you that your question falls into that category regarding my identity and you have lost your second question but I will let you leave your bones in the grove.
Hih-fes-tuhs (Old sign: Libra) How many times have you checked today? It’s vitally important that you add them all up accurately for us to do a complete analysis. Did you check your rearview mirror? Did you check the mail? Did you check your blind spot? Did you check it twice? Did you check if dinner’s ready? Did you check the stove before leaving the house? Did you check your teeth in the looking glass? Did you check your kids for lice? Did you check your clothes for marmalade? Did you check your personal bag for chewing gum after checking your breath? Did you check your body for tumors? Did you check your testicles? Did you check your breasts? Did you check the other side of your body for analogous organelles? Did you check to see how painful the lump is? Did the pain check your resolve to survive? The sentry in your brain does not rest. He does not work in shifts. He is at full alert even in your dreams. There are no more sentries to draft. They are used up. Your home is too small for a republic and too large for a loony bin. Consider downsizing. When your life has become endless checking, the manufacture of countless hands of countless generations, you are no longer living life but living in intervals between life.
Ter (Old sign: Scorpio) Choose your allies carefully this month and make a short list of the one whom you want in the fox hole. This person should be resourceful, intelligent, savage and brave to the point of recklessness. The recklessness gives you confidence and you will rise up and go into reckless battle with your meteoric comrade. Despite evidence to the contrary, the thought of your own death enters not your consciousness. Death happens to other people. And perhaps it is true that the dead are the greatest other there is. The dead are 107 billion strong, Earth’s largest demographic by far. One in every 15 people is alive. And the dead are growing in number everyday. When the wars come, those dead generals of old are at the front of every column of the living leading the march and proclaiming that “every war is fought like the last one.” The living learn quickly with the great baleful teachers, Pain and Fear and Loss, that the dead generals are merely lowly recruiting officers.
Shang-te (Old sign: Sagitarius) A business is changing hands and it will have far reaching consequences in your life. You will do battle with the biggest prick in your division and are likely to be victorious. He is not expecting the ambuscades you have laid for him, Shang-Ti! The prick will bow before you as he once did. Maybe you will be merciful, maybe you will not. We all do good and bad. Maybe this time you don’t want to be that good. But pricks are useful in their way. Maybe when he is laid low, he will finally bend to your will. Let your emissaries be pricks. All of them. They should be. Kublai Khan deserved better pricks.
Gih-na-sha (Old sign: Capricorn) There’s no fool like an old fool. You are feeling old and foolish after those sundry bacchanalias. Now your hangover is lasting into the fall. Nothing has beaten it. You’ve gone to the greasy spoons and drive throughs of your world. You have hydrated with every fluid you can stomach and yet that pang remains. What is it? You’ve really done it now, haven’t you? Permanent damage. No amount of entroplasm will take the pang away. Mortals get by with opiums and fermented nectars but you don’t have the constitution for opium or fermentations. There is one to whom you must turn for nourishment. You will know they’ve come into your life when you see morning doves. Their somber plaint will herald the arrival.
Hahp-e (Old sign: Aquarius) The sign of entropy upon the human body manifests as supreme tendency toward asymmetry. For my part I can measure my life in moments that made me more asymmetrical and predisposed me to more rapidly forming asymmetries. I discovered my major first asymmetry when I was 12. There was something wrong with my premolars. On the left side I had an impacted adult tooth pointed sideways, which would have migrated out through the front of my face had oral surgeons not intervened. The procedure involved extracting my baby premolar and then digging down into the hole, lassoing the tooth errant, and anchoring it to a molar to encourage the tooth to surface properly. After many weeks of painful bone grinding encouragement, the tooth came up through the hole, but it was then that we discovered that the tooth was not only going the wrong way in my mouth but it was also rotated 180 degrees so that the high ridge of the tooth was on the inside of my mouth. On the other side, x-rays revealed that I had no adult premolar lurking. I was never issued one at conception, it would seem. My dentist, a brutal man while at his work but otherwise very congenial, told me that the baby premolar should last forever if I take care of it. When the brutal man died, or retired—I can’t remember which—I saw a new dentist, a gentle autistic named Dr. Sipperstein. He was wonderfully gentle but painfully boring, in part, because his primary interest in life was teeth. He had two doctorates of dentistry. He told me that unfortunately my baby premolar would likely become long in the tooth and eventually it’s roots would grow down and fuse with my jaw bone. Were this to happen I would need a much more severe intervention. I wouldn’t trust this man to mend my trousers, but he was a magician with teeth. So, at 70 I lost my last baby tooth. I will share another asymmetry with you soon but suffice to say you are feeling your entropic asymmetry now. You can feel that slow creep toward chaos anytime in life. But this month, rejoice! Your cycles are aligned with almost everyone you meet. Blessings will be met with the blest, loss met with loser. Travel will be met by the traveller. Domestic Bounty met with the domestically bountiful. This alignment will give all parties a great sense of connection and relief. Measure your cortisol levels regularly. No matter your fate, cortisol will decrease over time with the connection you have made. You may need a dose of schadenfreude now and again, but sticking with your aligned group will have better outcomes.
Hehk-eht (Old sign: Pisces) You have vanquished your foe this summer. All the self doubt and loathing; was it all worth it? Of course now you have new problems. Your enemies have you zeroed and are pouring fire upon your position. Shells explode all around and you find safety in the fox hole where the foe you have slain is lain. The corpse is bloated with the plutonic vapors and his lips protrude in a ghastly manner, like the mouth of a drawstring leather bag. A shell screams down upon you and you dive into the fox hole and your hand plunges through the corpse and comes to rest on the back of his rib cage. You need not worry about the maggots. They are more interested in him for now; but, you may wonder if you will ever be clean again when you arise from the fox hole. Will you cover your fallen foe with dark earth? Or will you leave him to bone-bleaching time? The shelling has stopped. You pick yourself up and move off the line. September must be restorative.
Kah-le (Old sign: Aries) Retrograde Mars has ridden his chariot of rape and pillage through the tail end of that summer of embers, and the iron taste of martial affairs is sticking in your mouth. War will touch almost all signs deeply this September but you, Kali, will feel the deep hematomas of war most deeply of all. You will continually ask yourself how you survived the meat grinder. You will compare your chance of survival to that of having all of your molecules aligned with the empty space between the molecules of a wall and walking straight through it. Stop reading the news for at least a week; fret not about what happens inside the Beltways or Parliaments of the world; read Henry Adams and be relieved to know that history does not merely repeat itself like redundancies of a madman, but grows and flowers and dies and evolves and flowers and becomes successively and alternately more terrible and alluring.
Ah-naht (Old sign: Taurus) You are at war in a peach orchard. You are lying prone with bullets whizzing four inches above your head. Peaches and peach blossoms and men are falling with various plops and thuds and the dull squishing of peach meat and human meat sickens you. Peach stones and human bones. Collective sighs and moans. But there is a beauty here that overwhelms you and you reach out and pick a perfectly intact ripe peach that has fallen nearby. You dare to eat it and the juice streams down your chin and the sweetness of the meat joins with the sour fuzzy rind and you close your eyes and accept whatever fate befalls you. But you will survive the war and live to old age. In your rocking chair years you will try to get your boney hands on a good peach, but you will never find a peach like that one in the battle. You will be very old and possibly in a home for the very old, and taste will be one of your last truly intact senses, and you will eat peaches submerged in syrup from a plastic cup. You will raise the cup to your lips and drink the last of the bits of peach meat and syrup in one swallow and be satisfied.
Eh-shu (Old sign: Gemini) A lifetime ago in grammar school, I infuriated a fellow classmate, a Shenandoah bumpkin, with the cartesian suggestion that I could be a mind in a jar experiencing life as a dream. He became very defensive about his existence and said: “Well, maybe I’m the brain the jar and you’re not extent.” I corrected him and agreed that could be true also. Descartes was trickster who tricked his own mind into believing that there is no way to prove people are people and not automatons. Thusly he mused that the men humping and shuffling beneath raincoats and umbrellas on a dreary, drizzly, low-visibility day could be robot men disguised as human beings. Only by laying eyes on them through direct observation can one indeed know they are human. Yet were Descartes alive today that would not be enough proof for a self-tricking trickster like him. He would need to cut the individual open and be sure that indeed the person is not a machine. But there could be more trickery afoot. You may need to go down to the genetic level and be totally sure that your specimen is the genuine article and not a clone or a complex organism built with nanobots. But could you stop your slow slide of self-impalement upon the sword of cutting facts? Or would you perforce go further still? What then if your specimen is a genetic duplication? Then you would have to scour the globe for a living doppelgänger. But would that be enough? DNA can last for hundreds of thousands of years. Would you need to scour the dead? How far will you go for a fleeting moment of certainty? Consider your options. This is the hill you will die on.
Tah-na (Old sign: Cancer) The forest is smoldering and the horses and corpses are a-mouldering. In their haste to evacuate, no one bothered to unlock the paddock door and twelve arabians burned to death. Two vaqueros huddled together in death, charred and locked like black fighting beetles frozen in a final grapple. The stones and the bones are blackened and cracked. The horse meat is stringy and jerkied but flies and maggots have somehow set up shop. The flies in the flyshop are selling insider trading tips, and the maggots are vending insouciant lemon bars and an exquisite fried chicken sandwich with a spicy jalapeño slaw. A tapeworm is hawking your dreams. Your home is a total loss and maybe it’s time to think about moving somewhere wetter. But the fires will follow you wherever you go. Your only chance is to take to the sea. Go a-whaling! See the watery parts of the world. Salt air will do you good too. But life’s accidents happen regardless of place and time. A bullet through the bedroom window. A rabid raccoon. But the sea is one giant hazard from horizon to horizon. The lee side may give you some protection in the storm this September, but never forget the importance of a good captain of the ship and his navigator.
Marutuk (Old sign: Leo) You are on a riverboat in Burma. How you got there or why you’d elect to be there are mysteries. You have partial amnesia from the excesses of late summer and now you have to wake up at certain times and be at certain places punctually. This transition will test your resolve to move forward with your plans now. First take out that carefully executed action plan and seek out as much data to substantiate your verdict. There is no sense in rushing to judgment here. From the fields explode the fruits of harvest time but they are not yet ripe. Let your action plan mature, let it age in a cave but be ready to unfurl your action flag at a moment’s notice. Yes, remember where you are? A riverboat in Burma, you dumb fuck, next time break your back and pay a demon to throw you into the maw of hell, you inconsiderate sack of hammerheads. Sometimes I must be wrathful and since I accompany you, Marutuk; on your pleasure boat through clouds of bullets and mosquitoes, I feel every prick of the blood suckers and the leaden bloodletters. I write in blood the letters: “I DIED.” But here you are, Marutuk, mustachioed with entropic milk and honey. I am no longer on the river with you, but I hope you feel me, not in the wind because the wind is simply a matter of complex pneumatic mechanisms played by the big band of the Gods, but in the “erection of your small dorsal hairs.”