Tag Archives: relatives


Early this morning I took a walk. It was before the sun rose, and a breeze lifted leaves and pollen from the sidewalks and swirled around my feet. Bubo was on my shoulder, and as we so often do, we walked through the Green-Wood Cemetery, enjoying the quiet that so rarely graces Brooklyn.

We walked beneath the trees and wound around the gravestones and it felt as though the earth were telling us a great secret, barely audible at first. Soon the wind was whipping through the trees and there was an explosion of leaves, flowers, pollen and feathers. Then that low rumble. As I often mumble, something wicked this way comes. Usually this means Mordecai is on the move, but he’s laid up in bed with a fever and Charles is reading him the complete works of Dostoevsky.

This brings us to susurrus. This noun is pronounced soo-SUHR-uhs and means a whispering or rustling sound. From the Latin susurrare to hum, to whisper, the first documented use of the word was 1826. And, naturally, you can use the verb susurrate (to whisper, murmur) or the adjective susurrous (full of whispering sounds) to round out your vocabulary.

One might say that Bubo and I experienced a low susurrus before the wind created the botanical explosion in the cemetery. One might also say that a violent storm is often preceded by a susurrus of anxiety and power. One might say a lot of things, my dears, and it is important that one has a full vocabulary with which to speak.

Figure B

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the fear of being buried alive reached a feverish height. Grave Watchers were hired to keep watch over the recently buried, alert and vigilant should the prematurely buried awake. Often there was a bell apparatus set up with a string from bell to coffin. If the bell rang, the buried was not dead but alive.

My Uncle Ruprecht spent an eventful month as a Grave Watcher somewhere in Tennessee. He published his most well-respected poem during this time, titled “Safety Coffin Sleep Depravity”, and received a commendation for logging the most consecutive hours in a cemetery as a Grave Watcher during inclement weather.

He also continued the work that would become his legacy: Behavior Taxidermy. Ruprecht has an uncanny ability to recreate precise moments of human behavior, sculpting and drawing emotions so that these creations pulsate with energy. Even centuries later.

We discovered a trunk of Uncle Ruprecht’s Behavior Taxidermy Studies in an ancient trunk, and while the man seems to have disappeared nearly half a century ago, we inexplicably continue to receive letters and shipments from him. For all we know, he is back in Tennessee, vigilant at some soul’s grave, waiting for a bell to ring in the night.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.


Bubo and I took a little jaunt up to Saratoga Springs for the week. I wanted to visit some old haunts of Clothilde, a dubious relation on my mother’s side known for her great luck with the gee-gees.

That’s racing horses, dears. Saratoga Springs is rather known for the horse races.

Ensconced in a delightful manor with a view of Congress Park, this morning’s rain brought a shine to the smaragdine vegetation just coming into Spring glory. Saratoga Spring’s Congress Park has a gorgeous wooden carousel whose horses were carved by Marcus Charles Illions in 1910. You might be surprised to learn that Bubo is a huge fan of carousels.

Smaragdine is an adjective meaning of or relating to emeralds or having the color of emeralds; emerald green. Originating from the Greek smaragdinos, from smaragdosemerald green.

Smaragdine pops up in literature quite a bit, but the most famous example is the alchemical document The Smaragdine Table of Hermes Trismegistus. Legend has it that this emerald green tablet was discovered by none-other-than Alexander the Great in the tomb of Hermes in a cave near Hebron. It was said that upon this smaragdine tablet was written – in Phoenician characters – the thirteen precepts underlying alchemy. They are:

1. I speak no lies, but what is true and most certain.

2. What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing.

3. And as all things were produced by the mediation of one Being, so all things were produced from this one thing by adaptation.

4. Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon; the wind carries it in its belly, its nurse is the Earth.

5. It is the cause of all perfection throughout the whole world.

6. Its power is perfect if it be changed into action.

7. Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, acting prudently and with judgement.

8. Ascend with the greatest sagacity from the earth to heaven, and then again descend to the earth, and unite together the powers of things superior and things inferior. Thus you will obtain the glory of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly far away from you.

9. This thing is the fortitude of all fortitude, because it overcomes all subtle things, and penetrates every solid thing.

10. Thus were all things created.

11. Thence proceed wonderful adaptations which are produced in this way.

12. Therefore am I called Hermes Trismegistus, possessing the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.

13. That which I had to say concerning the operation of the Sun is completed.

It appears, however, that The Smaragdine Table is a medieval forgery – Alexander the Great did not find this emerald green tablet of knowledge in the tomb of Hermes. But it’s a delightful legend, no?

And the word feels like good bourbon when it rolls around your tongue. Use it at a party, won’t you?

Posted by The Odd Luminary Leave a comment Post Tags: , , ,

Wild Turkeys of Maine

Great Aunt Una sent some photos of the wild turkeys in their Spring Display.

I suggested she quit calling to them after boxes of chocolate worms were left on her back porch. That Una, ever the romantic, she thought it was rather sweet. But everyone knows Spring is not the time to trifle with a blue headed male turkey.

Posted by The Odd Luminary Leave a comment Post Tags: , , ,
© 2023 Odd Luminary. All rights reserved