I wouldn’t call myself particularly superstitious. And yet I think nothing of my ongoing salutations to single magpies. I don’t do the wave. I have always felt this to be an affront to single people everywhere, reinforcing the ridiculous idea that those not-coupled-up are a bit odd and should be regarded as objects of pity or – as in the magpie’s case – a threat. So wave at the magpie I won’t. (I may also have had situations whereby people thought I was waving at them or thin air, so avoiding such mix-ups is always best). But I do wink. It’s illogical and verging on the slightly insane but I just wouldn’t want to take a chance. You know?
A couple of weeks ago at my parents’ house I came across the horoscope page in the Sunday Times Style Magazine. There she was, my old friend Shelley Von Strunkel, advising on ‘unsettling lunar eclipses’, ‘cycles of growth from Thursday’ and ‘far reaching effects’. There was a time in my life when her daily forecasts were my first port of call – post-work-login, pre-coffee, mid-nervous-breakdown. And her anticipated two-part New Year’s reading was the only thing that kept me going after St. Stephen’s night. I, along with a few co-addicts (you know who you are) took everything from Shelley – advice, inspiration, but particularly hope. It was a time when I was floating a bit. Single, not really tied to one place, up for changing jobs… it was all to play for but a bit bamboozling, and I needed the assurance and prophetic words of Shelley like some people need a snack box after the pub. Badly. The thing was, believing I was receiving some kind of heads up on life gave me a sense I had some shred of control and whether real or not, well, it helped.
When I worked in Dublin there was – and maybe there still is – one particular oracle that you could go visit. His name was Eddie, he was based on South William Street and he was in hot, hot demand. Queues out the door onto the street demand. I heard about him through a work colleague who had taken a half day to go and consult him in relation to the implosion of a major relationship. You might think taking a half day was a bit dramatic but, well, needs must. I went twice. The first time I went with a friend who was told she would travel the world and get back with a sweetheart who was really her soul mate (she did) and I was told the person I was with was not the person for me (he wasn’t). The second time a different friend was told she too would get back with a sweetheart and they would live happily ever after (they are) and I was told I would meet someone who could be ‘the one’ in June (I did). How could he see it all in those faded tarot cards? He was so sure and specific.
(As an aside, Eddie would emerge every so often from his basement office to have a cigarette and chat to those waiting in the queue. While talking to, obviously, someone he knew quite well he mentioned how his aunt had died suddenly in England and how awful it had been. I couldn’t help but wonder a, if he could read my mind and b, why on earth hadn’t he foreseen his aunt’s death? Still baffles me.)
There’s something in all of this about trying to get a handle on your fate. Winking at magpies to offset disaster. Wanting to know what will happen, will it all be OK, will it all work out? When I said to my boyfriend of the time that Eddie had given us the thumbs down, I could see he believed it. He believed it because it confirmed thoughts he was having or didn’t even know he was having, but I always look back at that moment and think that although I saw it as fun way to pass a Saturday morning, perhaps you are literally tempting fate. Who is to say that what you’re told doesn’t become a roadmap that limits or expands your decision making?
I once asked Alan if he believed in Eddie’s powers. He doesn’t. I asked why he thought men don’t really seem to dabble in this kind of thing – I had never seen a single man waiting to see the card reader. He answered ‘because men are programmed to forge their own future’. And he’s right. Us women are really only one generation in to having the opportunity to control our own destinies through improved career options and better pay. How many Irish women in the 1960s owned their own car or home? Or travelled where they wanted, when they wanted? Hopes, dreams and gut feeling were all they had to carry them through a power-less life and visits to Eddie and horoscope readings are most likely a hangover from that period which my peers are seeing out.
There’s one indicator of ‘strange times ahead’ that Alan and I both agree on however. A full moon; and there’s one tonight. I should have sensed it – the small ones have been acting a bit (extra) cracked and today in Londis I had to grip the buggy not to start dancing madly to Whitney Houston’s ‘I’m Every Woman‘. My friend Colleen could always feel it in her waters and John O’Dea, a publican in Ennis, said you could rely on a night of mayhem with a full moon. If work is going to hell, you can’t sleep or you suddenly feel the need to move to Australia, it’ll be the full moon, no question.
Unfortunately, there’s no point in waving at it and neither Shelley or Eddie can get you out of it or promise you’ll survive it in tact, so you kind of just need to go with it. Man up and forge your own full moon, as it were.
Best of luck!