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McMystic: Reflections of an Unlikely Oracle
By Carole Murray

I had more important issues. My weight was going up and down faster than the elevator at Macy's. I memorized calorie counters and binged on Metrecal. Dramatic weight losses were followed by equally stunning gains. I needed two aunts to zip me into my senior prom dress. The Good Sisters made the prom compulsory upon pain of expulsion. Girls paraded out their brothers, cousins and uncles so that no one would be dateless. We were advised not to wear white prom gowns because their similarity to bed sheets would inflame the boys with desire. I wore a white prom gown.

My relentless caloric research convinced me that I should be a dietician. Already I could tell the difference in food value between a green grape and a purple one, between a Twinkie and a Snowball. I was obsessed with food; why not make it a profession? Before graduation I had a session with a career counselor. After reviewing my aptitude tests he was unequivocal. I was not a dietician; I was a budding mortician. He said that being a mortician would allow me to push people around without resistance. I'd almost rather be a saint.


It was everything. It was the Summer of Love, the Age of Aquarius, the Season of the Witch. It was the '60s! (Brace yourself) I was still in a Catholic institution, but the University of Dayton was a faux-Catholic school, named for the town that housed it. The Good Marianist Brothers replaced the Good Sisters; many of them so confused by their closeted sexuality that they bailed out during my four years there.

My future as the world's grooviest dietician floundered when I attended my first chem class. I had aced the course in high school, so what were these hieroglyphics that the professor scribbled on the blackboard with such gusto? Fearing nothing more than getting my knuckles split open again, I dropped the class. I drifted around campus dressed completely in purple -- jeans, jacket, sunglasses, and Indian shoulder bag from Azuma. I joined the "Occult Book of the Month Club" and with the help of unlimited cuts, was able to devote myself to metaphysics, a subject that wasn't unilaterally focused on punishment, dread, and unworthiness.

When the astrologer Linda Goodman came to my campus to promote Sun Signs, I was among thousands of students who filled the field house to hear her lecture, a crowd worthy of Hendrix. Linda was able to take an arcane and archaic system and make it fun. The next day I bought her book in hardcover for $10, an extraordinary commitment when you consider that paperbacks then cost fifty cents.

My first astrology teacher was a computer named Astro-Flash who resided in Grand Central Terminal. During holiday breaks I would pilgrimage with friends to buy my six-month forecast. The computer was programmed in France and the translations were sophisticated. "You may feel your passions and emotions rise to the surface, your cravings, needs and appetite for life reach a new high. A frame of mind such as this may incline you to greater intimacy with your nearest and dearest, and to put new life into your relationships. On the other hand, your changing status quo could cause a problem in your love life. In short, there will be a temporary acceleration of your amorous proclivities, a happy form of aggression when it is only passing, but apt to complicate things if it lasts too long." Oh those French with their cravings and amorous proclivities. I went to the head of the class.

I acquired the tools of the trade -- a Tarot deck, a Ouija board, biographies of Edgar Cayce, a collection of charts I had done for my guinea pig pals, a hardcover I Ching. My greatest scholastic coup was getting an A on an English lit paper I called "Twain, Crane and Poe: How Astrology influenced their Fiction." For my birthday everyone gave me crystal balls. I listened to Joni Mitchell sing about "the zodiac and Zen" while memorizing the planets, the houses, the transits and how they affected us. If there is a heaven I was in it.

I graduated with a BS, incomparable friends, and a comprehensive lack of plans for the future.

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