hobo bibliomancy

Two great tastes came together oh so magnificently on my walk to work yesterday morning; it isn’t normally what I’d consider quality time.

As I’m about to turn the corner to my place of work–I’m shuffling glumly, head kind of downish, a demi-scowl fixed in place–I see out of the corner of my eye that there, on top of the concrete trash receptacle, is a book, left open. It takes me about ten additional paces for the peripheral image to register. I snap back to a healthier level of presence, and decide to say, yes, I will let the universe play with me, and I with it. I stop, do a 180, and return to see what it is that’s on top of the trashcan.

It turns out to be a copy of Vol. 6 (Holderness–Krasnoje) of the 15th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and it’s open to: jackal.

Now then, among my favorite things: found objects and bibliomancy.

Caution is my default mode with found objects in my work ‘hood. It’s a dogeared, hard-scrabble, toughluck, and urine soaked chunk of town. But this particular volume looked to be in decent shape, so, yeah, I grabbed it.

As for bibliomancy, it’s a party trick we like to haul out from time to time, typically with a dictionary. Close your eyes, open the book randomly, plunk your finger down somewhere, anywhere, onto the page you’ve opened to, open your eyes, and read. The hope is that what you have selected will have some entertaining, enlightening, or, if you’re lucky, downright creepy resonance with what’s happening in your world.

So then, the jackal; my unwitting street reading:

In the New Kingdom Anubis was seen as being in charge of legions of thousands of daemons, and could be appealed to for protection against negative magic, especially curses. He also punished those who violated tombs or gave offence to the gods.

I thought it a lucky break, finding this totem of the warding-off of curses and all manner of bad juju, as I was about to enter the office. There’s a micro-scale, highly localized urban legend in my shop that our building carries a curse placed upon it several years ago by some local practitioners of the darker spiritual arts, in response to some very badly handled community relations on the part of the real estate developers who were behind the conversion of the former industrial building I work in.

I don’t honestly know enough about the spiritual practice in question to put any credence in the story or in the efficacy of the bad mojo spell. I can say that my day time finds me surrounded by and interacting with  the ranks of the walking professionally wounded. And there I am. Right there. With them.

So, yes. A little sign of protection? I’ll take it. And I take strength in knowing that someone out there can relate.

Alternately, what with the fact that the open pages also included an entry on U.S. President Andrew Jackson, perhaps it was simply a cosmic reminder that I needed to hit an ATM to take out 20 bucks for the day.

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About dave bois

Freelance writer with a strong pull towards environmental matters (water issues especially) that remains fueled by my study of and early-career practice in geology and hydrology. Music, food, dogs, current/political events, and visual arts combine to command much of the portion of attention not ceded to ecological concerns. Also Monty Python. I've sold a few pieces of original art and have made cab fare home playing saxophone. Native Mainah

3 thoughts on “hobo bibliomancy

  1. Hmmmm. Sure there wasn’t crack hidden in that book?

    [ dmb edit: well, krakow’s in there; i don’t think that they bothered to hide it though ]

  2. Dave, I love this post. you so clevah, GI! Me love you long time. That is an elemental Tale of Oaktown. Gotta add you to my B-roll.

    [ dmb edit: oh hell yeah! dawnie in the house! many thanks for dropping by with some breadcrumbs for me. meant to add my two cents to the most recent two liner, but i got sucked into a vortex i’m just now crawling out of. and for the record, this particular found object event took place in sf/mission where i work, but i certainly have made some killer finds here in the east bay; see older post “it’s ‘bots-a-poppin’ today!” for one such tale… xo, dmb]

  3. I agree with dawniedee. very clever post. we sometimes have these tiny, elusive experiences that skip the memory like jump rope. It’s nice when we actually find time to write them down. And, yes, uncanny, weird, whatever you want to call the coincidence, it’s always a bit unsettling to find out you’re being protected by someone who’s in charge of legions of demons.

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