Sacred Precinct

"San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality" – Paul Kantner

No Gods, No Masters: The Subversive Symbolism of Topping Out

As the many skyscrapers being built in downtown San Francisco near thier completion, you may notice a giant American flag proudly displayed near the top, along with an undecorated Christmas tree. The raising of the flag signifies the building has reached its maximum height, but not its completion.  It is a part of the “topping out” ceremony, an ancient pagan tradition adopted and carried on exclusively by American high steel ironworkers since the 1880’s.

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The Seven Sisters at Solstice

“The Seven Sisters” are a row of seven very famous Victorian houses in Alamo Square park, also known as the “Painted Ladies” of Alamo Square.  Designed by Michael Cavanaugh, the Seven Sisters are the most widely photographed residences in America, second only to the White House.  Residents report that it feels like they live in Disneyland, as their homes are such popular tourist attractions.  The name “Seven Sisters” is appropriate for this group of “Ladies” as the phrase usually refers to the Pleiades star cluster, which is universally depicted as seven tight knit women who are trying to evade attention.

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Twilight Mages Pt. 3: Byoir and Associates

Carl Byoir, a founding father of the profession of Public Relations, and the man who would serve nearly a decade as E. Virgil Neal’s right hand man, was a child prodigy of the newspaper business. He started working in the industry when he was 14 years old and made managing editor of the Iowa Times by the time he was 17. He first worked under the legendary editor Joseph Pulitzer, and then worked his way up to become circulations manager for the entire Hearst newspaper empire, where he was known as the “Miracle Man” for his ability to get things done. He then studied under the educator Maria Montessori, and bought the first Montessori franchise in the United States. Because of his thorough understanding of mass media, when America joined the Allied forces in 1917, Byoir was hired as Associate Chairman of the Creel Committee of Public Information, which launched an unprecedented propaganda campaign to sell America to the world. There Byoir gained the sobriquet of “M.D.” which stood for “Multiple Director,” because of his capacity to oversee many initiatives at once.

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Twilight Mages Pt. 2: The Dark Arts of Persuasion

“The Machiavelli of the mid-20th century will be an advertising man; his Prince, a textbook of the art and science of fooling all the people all the time.”

– Aldous Huxley

The “Twilight Mages” were a group of practical occultists that emerged in the 1890s, who commercialized the occult by making previously esoteric or forbidden knowledge available to the masses – for a price.  The Twilight Mages promised to reveal the secrets to success, and to help develop one’s latent powers and hidden talents.  Using the same business model that Scientology would later perfect, the Mages sold elaborate mail order lesson plans in esoteric subjects as diverse as personal magnetism, telepathy, and hypnosis.  A single topic would typically consist of an average of 30 lessons, and mastering the “complete system of personal influence” required the completion of nearly 200 lessons.

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The Twilight Mage, Pt 1: The Changeling

It seems like once every couple of years someone proposes closing down San Francisco’s most popular tourist attraction: Lombard Street, “The Crookedest Street in the World,” to automotive traffic.  In 1977, one such proposal made the news with the headline “Crookedest Street Facing a Dead End?”  Similar to recent reports on the subject, it suggested that the tourist traffic be redirected instead to Vermont Street, between 20th and 22nd, which, with both a steeper grade and tighter turning radius, is a more rightful claimant to the world’s title.  The article would have otherwise been of little interest to me, except that at the end it quotes one “Xen Neal, Vermont street resident,” and therein lies the real story.

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Mystery Tombstone and Druid’s Temple

In late August of 2001, a board member of the Colma Historical Association was taking a walk along the old Southern Pacific railway line in Colma, California, the only Necropolis, (City of the Dead) in North America, when he discovered a large tombstone half buried in the dirt.  The 1000 pound tombstone was beautifully carved and bore some unusual markings, including an inverted triangle with the Eye of Providence.  The tombstone was near a local monument maker, who agreed to retrieve it and hold it in safe keeping until it’s proper location could be determined.

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666 Post St. “The Devil’s Tower”

The Crown Towers Apartment building on Post Street manages to command one’s attention by it’s striking blood red color alone, but this color choice also tends to raise a few eyebrows when viewed in context with the address: 666 Post St. This has led to the Crown Towers being alternately referred to as “The Devil’s Tower,” but rest assured, the uncanny number and color symbolism was accidental, and any connection to Satan is purely in the mind of the beholder.

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The Sacred Number 49

The number 49 is found all over San Francisco, which is seven miles by seven miles, or 49 square miles.  San Francisco was born during the Gold Rush of 1849, and her first wave of immigrants are known as “49’ers.”  San Francisco’s football team, which is named after these pioneers, joined the NFL in 1949.  The highway which runs through Gold Country is Highway 49, and the most famous route through San Francisco is the 49 Mile scenic drive.  San Francisco’s symbol, the phoenix, rises from the ashes “seven times seven,” or 49 times.  San Francisco’s founding Mission Church is devoted to “Our Lady of Seven Sorrows,” who is depicted with seven swords piercing her heart.  The Mater Delorosa’s litanies are sung in 49 voices, and her rosary has 49 beads.

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A Higher Calling: 140 New Montgomery

Commissioned in 1924 in order to consolidate several smaller buildings into one main headquarters for the then newly formed Bell System, (now AT&T) the skyscraper at 140 New Montgomery Street in San Francisco, was designed according to the basic architectural principles of a Buddhist temple-monastery.

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The Lady Isis in Bohemia

Enshrined within a glass case inside the Bohemian Club, is the ancient mummy of an Egyptian princess, a high priestess in the Temple of Amon-Re in Thebes, known affectionately as “Lady Isis.”

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450 Sutter – The Temple of Doom

Specifically designed to house dentist offices, Four-Fifty Sutter is alternately referred to by locals as “The Tower of Terror,” “The House of Pain,” Four-Fifty “Suffer” and “The Temple of Doom.”  Many have pondered the meaning of the building’s mystical Mayan symbolism, but their curiosity was never quite satisfied…until now.

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Gateway City

Due to its geopolitical location, San Francisco is known as the “Gateway City.” It is commonly referred to as the “Gateway to the West,” the “Gate of the Pacific,” the “Gateway to the Orient” and the “City of the Golden Gate.” John C. Fremont, who named the Golden Gate, referred to it as “that great passage and union between hemispheres.”

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The Story of a Lost Race

In 1897, San Francisco journalist Frona Wait Colburn, published her first work of fiction, “The Dorado,” in which she imagines that the lost race of Atlantis once inhabited San Francisco 11,000 years ago. In her mythical ancient capital city of “Tlamco,” the seven hills of San Francisco were carefully constructed to precisely mark the orbits and diameters of the planets, as well as map out the seven stars of the Pleiades, and align with the three stars of Orion’s belt.

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Built at the Behest of Spirits

The Hayward Building at 400 Montgomery Street was built at the behest, and some say, with the financial backing, of the Spirit World.

The Hayward Building was commissioned by Alvinza Hayward at the request of the spirits, whose previous advice had led him to the richest gold vein in the country. The medium who communicated this information from the Spirit World was given and estimated $80,000 in finders fees. To repay the spirits for their guidance and support, Hayward was asked to use his winnings to build the largest skyscraper in the City of San Francisco.

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