Wednesday, September 9, 2009


From somewhere in the back country of Fort Ord, I hear Jack Erslager’s disembodied voice telling me today is special. It’s 9-9-09. Remember, number 9 has magical properties. And the swastika? It’s the only symbol with nine points. Oh lucky day. Unless, of course, you’re in Japan. People from Japan attribute bad luck to the number nine (kind of like how Americans think about the number 13).

Recently, I browsed through Jack’s book about the history of the swastika and looked through pages of black and white glossy photos of good luck tokens, all with that most misunderstood of symbols, pre-WWII swastikas. One token in particular captured my attention: a mystical seer gazing at a crystal ball with the numeral nine floating in the middle of it. Other good luck symbols covered these tokens: a rabbit foot, four leaf clover, wishbone, and, if I remember correctly, something Egyptian, like a pyramid or all-seeing eye. The tokens, once owned by Jack, were from all over the world, which leads me to the conclusion that in the not too distant past, we were believers in luck. I wonder how many people carry tokens like this today. Jack did. He carried one in his wallet: the hovering “9” in the middle of the seer’s ball.

I don’t believe in luck. I think we are the makers of our own destiny, our own luck. Yet, whenever I write out the date, or see an address, phone number, etc., I count the numbers. Through osmosis I’ve learned to do that, even though I have no idea what number four means, or five, but I remember being told about numbers many times. The only one that stuck is 9.

May the four winds from the four corners of the heavens, ever upon you gently blow.

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