I was thinking about the time I tried automatic writing
so successfully, in my top floor flat in West Hampstead, London NW 6.
I lived with an American girl called Mary, from Florida,
who explored London as adventuresomely as I did, talking to total strangers every day, who followed her home, and shared our
talks on feminism, Tarot, astrology, world travel, youth culture, phrenology, ancient Egypt, crystal balls, palmistry.
She caught my interest the day she came home with
great excitement aboutmeeting two congenial brothers who had purchased a historic occult bookshop a minute's walk from the
One brother John minded the bookstore, the other brother
worked in television and movies as a professional actor. In love with the British Museum since I first spied the Egyptian
Room as an impressionable ten year old child, I followed her down to the Russell Square neighbourhood to meet her new friends.
The bookstore was tiny but exuded mystery and promise
of exciting knowledge to come. As a friend of a friend of the owners, I clambered up on ladders, and accessed the crowded
Bored by Sun Sign books, we latched onto a huge encyclopedia
of arcane astrological knowledge with an inaccurate name of Medical Astrology. It explained everything in great details.
For example what stars went wrong, if you feel on a skiing slope, and injured the lower left side of your face. The
lower right side was governed by a different heavenly configuration.
Mary's zest and curiosity was insatiable, and I followed
her merry leadership into meeting the most interesting people in the London area.
First an astrologer with an East Indian name, who
looked at the chart of the boyfriend I left behind in Canada, and sighed sadly, It just misses. Iknew what he meant.
Then the phrenologist who complimented us both, by telling us the shape of our
heads implied more of male intellect than a feminine intelligence. I could not blast her for this breach of feminist
etiquette, because she tried to encourage us, in a backhanded way.
My favourite was the White Witch, who lived in attractive comfort in a large
suburban house, and told me the problem with today's world was the vast amount of Animal Souls incarnating. This was
in response to my thinking out loud, There was so many interesting and talented people a hundred years ago - it seems like
there should have been more in our own time periiod!
The Animal Souls theory seemed sound and scientific to us, if you were in that
world. After all there are as many people living right now, this year, as all of the people who lived between Jesus
Christ, Year 0, and Year 1900.
The White Witch was motherly as well. Letting us know to be careful about
bad thoughts and bad deeds, lest they boomerang right back, and hit us right where our malice began. The Boomerang
Mary and I had interesting hands.
Her fingers were long and delicate, with palms full of fine lines of destiny.
The psychic hand. My hands too held an array of marks of promises that have yet to come true, a double fate line, a double
life line, a trident on the Mount of Apollo, a eight pointed star on the Mount of Apollo on the other hand.
My hand was not quite so elongated, and fell under the artistic hand, a degree
more practical. Not exactly true, as Mary went on with steadiness to become a serious expert on the Tarot, writing books,
giving lectures. She brought her dreams into a solid reality.
All in all, she was a wonderful room-mate, I did not see this fully at the time,
but I like the metaphor that our lives are like journey winding upwards around a mountain. Every year we are at a different
point, higher, looking down on what has gone before.
Coming home at night to the cold, unheated flat, and having to scramble through
our coat pockets for change to put into the hall meter just to get utilities turned on, or running down two flights
of steps to get the telephone in the hall lobby, or lighting the terrifying gas meter in the bathroom to have a hot bath -
I slept with pantyhose beneath my blue and white Mark's and Spencer nightgown
and a sweater on top of that, just to get to sleep, but when you woke up in the morning, the world was yours, because you
were young and in London, and had friends like Mary, and needed little else.