Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wintering in California




“Within each of us a universe awaits exploration.” That’s how I’m opening my new astrology book called The Tao of Astrology. And it’s finally unfolding after all these years out here in cold wet rainy California. After securing a nice place to stay for Arian and myself in Chico CA, Arian flew home to spend Christmas with his mom, and his other family on Dauphin Isle, Alabama. So I decided to hop on the bus Gus and head down to spend 12 days of Christmas in San Francisco as the Traveling Magi.

Before I left on my bike journey last under the Summer Solstice, while still in the preparation stage of leaving everything you know behind, I met a lady online named Alicia Lin, a Chinese lady from San Fran who was both into video game designer recruitment and astrology. We instantly became friends and I told her that I would love to visit if I ever made it to the big city. In addition, a friend of mine named Adam Apollo also lived just north of San Francisco in the Marin County region...and I arranged to stay the night at his place and have Thai food with him and his love Ka, who is the most amazing artist I’ve ever encountered. Adam is the most innovative web designer and visionary I know.

Getting to Adam’s place in Fairfax was harder than it looked. I took the bus down to Sacramento and then over to San Francisco, arriving while the light still shined. Wandering around downtown in the financial district was disorienting with all those huge yawning, looming buildings everywhere creating a maze of modern living that most rats would have a hard time of. So I just walked around trying to figure out which bus went north across the Golden Gate bridge. After the sun had gone down, I still didn’t have a clue, and Alicia was busy for one more night so I couldn’t stay with her as she had friends in town already couchsurfing there. I managed to find her apartment building just in case I became stranded and then I went to talk to the bus people.

Eventually I learned the number of the bus I needed to take, and Adam was expecting me soon, but I didn’t know where to catch said bus. So I just walked around in circles with my vibram five-finger shoes and sore feet from carrying a heavy backpack. Then I saw it! A bus with the right number was coming right for me and so I flagged it down and chased it to the next stop. Next thing you know I’m heading across the Golden Gate Bridge in the dark fog and rain headed to a place I’ve never been to meet an old friend and Jedi trainer.

Adam and I had been roommates back in Asheville between 2002 and 2005 or so. He was in college then and I enjoyed hanging out with the 20-something crowd in my early 30’s. Turns out that he ended up getting into a relationship with a lady named Ka, who was born about 7 days before Christina, my last wife...and I had done her chart before. It was great when she picked me up at the bus drop-off and I finally got to put a face to a chart! We drove over to her place where Adam was waiting. It was so good to “hug his neck” again as they say in the Deep South. We spent the night sharing stories of our journeys of awakening over the last decade and it was truly magnificent. I showed him some of the new ideas in Tao of Astrology and blew his mind, and he showed me the magic he was doing on the web and blew mine! Then he invited me and my friend ALicia to the Winter Solstice party they were having in a few days. The next morning I interpreted some astrology charts for Adam’s other roommates over at his place. They live in these giant beautiful intricate 2 million dollar houses on mountains overlooking the lush Marin county region. What a way to wake up in the morning with such amazing views. I felt like we were back in Asheville NC with all the rain again.

After riding the bus back down to San Francisco I finally got to meet Alicia Lin and we went out for Thai food and she began telling me that she had all these amazing people she would love to connect me to. Alicia is Libra rising with a Libra moon...so Miss Connections...you could call her a human Rollodex! If you need to connect with someone in the Bay Area or in the world, she has a magical way of making it happen.

We went back to her gorgeous apartment overlooking the Bay Area Bridge and Alcatraz and she invited me to stay on her couch or in her bed. It wasn’t a sexual thing. I mean, it could have been. But we were not attracted to each other in that way..so we just slept in the same room but with no romantic fondling. Unless you think conversation is romantic, which I do. We talked about everything, but mainly astrology and barely had time to sleep between roaming the city and meeting people. I think I must have met over fifty influential people while there, and did about seven charts per day on my I-pad....mini sessions that gave people a taste of what I do: Give people valuable insights into their integrated character and the qualities of time they are experiencing, along with some poetic inspirational spiritual advice to help people on their journeys.

Alicia was relentless in her goal of introducing me to the movers and shakers of San Francisco’s creative scene. After reading Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums in my tent on my I-pad months before, it was an honor to visit the City Lights bookstore where Ginsberg and company used to convene. I could feel their spirits there, still whispering in echoes off the old walls in the downstairs area. I also found a great book by Jung which opened write to a cool quote for my astrology book. Yahoo!

On our way to the Winter Solstice party, Alicia arranged a quick visit with Noah Falstein, a pioneer of the video game industry who has been doing video games since the beginning back in 1980! I showed him my manuscript in progress on the astrologically-inspired character generation aspect of my new RPG and he was quite impressed. He said, “Most people come to me with ideas scrawled on napkins, and you look like you’re ready to go to press.” His basic advice was that I do something to make the system I’ve designed go viral, since I didn’t come with funding. Maybe a new RPG would use my system as the engine of a game if I could do that. I told him that a character creation app for the I-pad would be something that would be great for writers and gamers, and he agreed. It was great to sit with a fellow creative game designer either way.

When we got to the party I got out of Alicia’s car and met a guy getting out of his car named Logan Griffin, an amazing healer and metaphysician. And we gazed at the stars together and talked like we already knew each other. I think we spent a good hour or two at the beginning of the party staring into each other’s eyes and talking astrology and metaphysics. We were both highly impressed with each other and glad to know one another. Later when I returned to Chico we did an astrology session just before he went out to Hawaii to do a workshop on healing. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be standing next to Jesus, this was as about as close as I imagined it could be. At least the long-blonde haired blue-eyed version. If you need any healing whatsoever, look him up on my Facebook friends. Wow! Is all I can say about the quality of this human being and it was a deep honor to do his chart!

Then as the evening progressed, I ran into my soul mate..LOL I met the happy wandering soul of Australia in one named Monica Day...and what a happy day she was indeed. We were not soul mates in the usual sense of lovers and all that greasy merging with bodies and stuff, just in the wandering vagabonding smiling spreading love sense! If you could imagine us at the center of a party full of metaphysical practitioners sitting on these two cushions like a king and queen of joy while I read her chart. She later had a full-on two hour session at Om Shan Tea in the Mission, but this was just an introduction and it blew her mind. She ended up staying with Alicia and I a few nights later. If there was ever an embodiment of joy on the planet in female form it was Monica Day. Her smile was medicine for the soul...and the darkness she has faced and overcome and loved has led her to a special kind of enlightenment that has opened her to a calling in the healing arts as well. The world needs them!

After leaving Australia she did a stint in England for 8 years before she awakened to the life of a global traveler. It was fun to meet another one! The globe is getting smaller and more intimate and people are realizing that if they can find a way to work from home, then they can actually embrace a mobile version of home and ultimate freedom to blend travel and work. I think meeting Monica was a milestone in human relationships for me. I was totally attracted to her, and yet we didn’t need to go there. It was like we were spiritual brother and sister..no physical bonding required...and it was bizarre. We laughed and we roamed the city with Alicia meeting her Rollodex...ending up at a gathering of Couchsurfer.com people one night, having vegan food the next, and having sacred tea at Om Shan Tea in the mission the next night. I can’t even name all the cool places we went and people we met: everyone from managers of multi-million dollar companies to billionaire geniuses starving for true love to masters of the I-ching.

Everybody seemed so highly accomplished in their fields, but no one seemed vitally happy without a reason, except Monica of course. She was a saint of happiness and joy. Everyone was so driven by their projects, their lives, their desire for authentic human contact. I even ran into a guy who helped develop the Authentic Man Program, which helps men find their core presence in life. Great program and great people running it. I later attended a party at a house on the hill in Berkeley and met one of the core founders named Bryan Bayer. We had a great time at the party that night and I told Alicia I wasn’t doing any charts at all. My voice was hurting and I wanted to just relax. But after meeting a fellow traveler and cooking together in the kitchen, I couldn’t help but unleash my full arsenal and bestow the people with the Magi gift...I mean, it was a Christmas party after all! If you look on Facebook you’ll notice the pics of me in the corner in a black shirt doing about seven charts! LOL Sometimes the gift just comes through spontaneously whether I like it or not. We are all called to serve with out gifts. In the end great spiritual healing happened that night!

One night at Om Shan Tea I met a mystic named Peter who happened to be born on my birthday. We had a tremendous talk about the I-Ching and Taoism and astrology and I need to get back down there to just bask in his presence. I told him about my spiritual brother Peter in Colorado who just translated the I-Ching directly. If you ever go to the Mission check out Om Shan Tea and look for a wise man in the corner with a long beard...that’s Peter. I was overjoyed to add another spiritual brother named Peter to my collection of unique companions on earth.

The next day I returned to Om Shan Tea to meet a guy I’ve been meaning to meet since I began my journey in Colorado. Early in my prep to develop this traveling lifestyle, back when I was reading the Four Hour Work Week and Vagabonding, I came a cross a series of websites of people devoted to this idea of Locational Independence, mostly bloggers traveling the world making a living online writing e-books and such. One of them had created a blog called Far Beyond the Stars, which was right up my alley as a stargazer, and his name was Everett Bogue. Everett had skyrocketed to blogging infamy in the last year with his e-books on minimalism, creating movements, and minimalistic businesses...when I met him he was working on Augmented Humanity. Later that month he completed the work and I downloaded the PDF on my I-pad to read about the nest stage of human evolution from an authentic visionary of our time.

And he agreed to meet me in the Mission at Om Shan Tea. I kept emailing him from the road as I trekked through Canada and down the coast saying that one day I would meet him in San Francisco if he was still there. Turns out he was planning on relocating the next day after I met him. He had been gaining enlightenment though yogic practices at Yoga to the People, but he had never had his astrology chart done before. So after months of being inspired by his blog, I gifted him with a full on session and blew his mind with cosmic insight into his chart and the emerging seasons of the soul right there in public at Om Shan Tea, with Peter listening from the corner. Afterward, we went to yoga class to let the insight filter in. All I’ll reveal about our session was that this guy was onto something amazing and would surpass George Lucas if he kept at it...LOL

After my meeting with my new cybernetic-yogi friend who in person reminded me of Wolverine from the X-men, I continued my journey by learning to ride the BART, that is, the Bay Area Rapid Transit. I had never been on a subway before, so the idea of going down a dark stairwell into the earth to be shuttled between locations reminded me of Mercury’s descent into the Underworld leading the spirits of the dead to their final meeting with Hades. And some of the people I saw on the subway reminded me of the spirits of the dead. But I overcame my fear and learned to ride the Bart over to Berkeley. After reading Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a book that changes lives, I had to visit the place of Dan Millman’s enlightenment. It was almost surreal to be walking around in the rain to see roads from the novel like University and Shattuck. I was happy to simply be, and remembered the scene when, after winning a national gymnastics championship, Dan felt totally empty. After nine years of vagabonding he had finally woke up with an open broken heart ready to serve the world. Now I can relate for sure!

While sitting at Berkeley Espresso one of my all time top astrologers instant messaged me on Facebook and told me that even though he was editing his new film “To Dream of Falling Upwards” and quite busy, that he would love to meet at last. He lived ten blocks away from where I was sitting! His name was Antero Alli and he inspired me to become an astrologer along with Steven Forrest and Dane Rudhyar. So I ran through the rain to meet him for an hour, and after knocking on his door, he opened it and invited me into a warm living room like chamber with a fireplace burning away for hot tea. I felt like I was being invited to sit at the table with a king, and was honored indeed. His astrology book Astrologik is still one of my faves! That’s one thing travel affords, the ability to meet all the most amazing people who have inspired your journey. Suddenly there they are right in front of you having tea and sharing stories.

Our hour long conversation easily ran over to an hour and a half as we journeyed between astrology, filmmaking and the spiritual path. Besides being a great honor to meet one of my astrological heroes turned filmmaker, it was also great to hear his wisdom about the path of life in general. After a great bear hug, I was sent back out into the rain to continue my amazing journey. At one point in our conversation, Antero looked at me with that wry smile and asked, “But who do you think you are?” As if I was supposed to proclaim I was some sort of messiah or something, LOL. Which I responded to by saying, “Just an ordinary guy with some extraordinary insight.” And it seemed that he was pleased to know I wasn’t totally delusional. LOL

Once I had ridden the Bart once, I was way hooked. I wanted to Bart all over the place and explore everything. We should have a World Bart where we could just get on and off at various countries exploring astro-cartography at will! I tried to connect with my astrologer colleague Rebecca in Oakland but she was unavailable. Instead I ended up back in the Mission staying with fellow alchemist/astrologer Caleb Grayson. One of his roommates had served me tea at Om Shan Tea and I was impressed with her minimalism as an actress. I stayed at his pad that night and he made us a feast in honor of my coming. We stayed up late talking about life the universe and everything, my favorite subject by far.

The next morning I walked through the mission with my backpack and my blistered feet to find the Bart again. I was addicted to the subway. Those Vibram five-finger shoes are great except when you are carrying a huge loaded pack up and down hilly cement streets. My feet were hurting so bad that I almost bought a new pair of shoes. But the Bart was my saving grace. When I got on the Bart everyone seemed so bored, so modern and jaded and wired into their cellular devices. I was glad that my Droid had died. Whereas I had my head on a swivel looking around at all the sights and just being in awe of moving that fast underground and overland. I mean, we were riding through a tunnel dug under the bay shooting forward at high speed, riding the wave between the surface and the subterranean realms.

Alicia gave me a key to her place so I could come and go. I only used the apartment-complex gym one day while I was there. Travel definitely interrupts your health routine! It's best to find a way to devote yourself to movement and sweat with no need for a gym. The cool part was that I could come and go at will and always had a safe warm place to crash in the big city. Thanks Alicia! One night during the Full Moon, Alicia drove Monica and I up to the top of the hill overlooking San Francisco where you could see the entire city and it was a sight to behold! Twelve days sped by in what seemed like a blur of meeting a hundred interesting people and tasting ten different Thai restaurants. My favorite quickly became the Green Papaya in Berkeley! A vegetarian Thai restaurant surpassing Arayas in Seattle, now that’s an achievement, except they had no all you can eat buffet. If I ever did decide to settle into an ordinary existence I could see myself living in Berkeley for Fall and Winter and Boulder in Spring and Summer.

All in all, my trip to San Francisco was grand and awakening. The jewel city of enlightenment and creativity on the west coast was a fun place to galavant around and meet many amazing folks If I was stuck on a desert isle with all the people I had met, I’m sure we would be able to form a great community and village. In the months to come leading to the Spring Equinox, I went back to San Fran to celebrate International Astrology Day at a Unity Church downtown. Steven Forrest and other astrologer friends showed up and I even got to see Alicia Lin again. This was the week after the Earthquake hit Japan and Uranus entered Aries to shock and rock the world again, beginning a new 84 year cycle through the Zodiac. In my next blog post I’ll recount my visit to Santa Cruz and my return to San Francisco under the Spring Equinox. I began this journey under the Summer Solstice in Colorado, enjoyed the Fall Equinox in Seattle, the Winter Solstice in San Francisco, and then the Fall Equinox back in San Fran with Chico, the land of almond orchards in between. Where will I be come next summer Solstice? Will my astrology book finally be finished? We shall see indeed!

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