Most of us twiddled our thumbs in childhood — that is, interlaced our fingers and rotated our thumbs around each other — unconscious of our participation in an ancient practice dating back centuries within the Zoroastrian, Buddhist, and Sufi traditions. Khalil Patuknon, fourth-order Sufi and Confucian adept, will instruct in the proper method of twiddling, based on his twelve-year retreat in the Khartoum Mountains.



Feces divination is probably the most ancient form of prophecy. It has existed in all ages and cultures, although it has often been suppressed. Marie Antoinette is reputed to have learned of her fate using this method, which explains her dignity at the gallows. Such diverse figures as Aristotle, Galileo, and Shankaracarya devoted considerable space to it in their private writings. Harold Kerb, playwright, psychotherapist, and boxing coach, has studied the history and practice of feces divination since childhood. He will guide you through this sometimes sticky terrain.



“If you’re a firefighter, astrology can save your life,” says Sandra Lockhorn, who has taught dual-tone astrology for more than twelve years. “Men in dangerous occupations can benefit greatly from simple astrological principles. Just knowing which house the planet Mercury is in can affect whether one calls for backup or breaks down a door.” Sandra Lockhorn has tailored astrology to the needs of such diverse groups as caterers, bowling leagues, and funeral directors. “Most firefighters are fire signs,” she says, “and don’t even know it!”



The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, once seen as a purely community-based fraternal order, is gaining more and more recognition as a bona fide spiritual path. Founded in 1871 by banker and clairvoyant John R. Star, the order synthesizes such diverse influences as Rosicrucianism, the Book of Mormon, Islam, shuffleboard, and the Charter of the Republican Party. Patrick S. Dennis, a thirty-ninth-order Elk, will introduce beginners to the richness of this philosophy, which has profoundly shaped American life.



In recent years, numerous psychotherapists and yogis have discussed spirituality and sex. Due to prurience and narrow thinking, however, one area has always been ignored: anality. Certain cultures attach no stigma to it, and the ancient Greeks even saw it as superior to vaginal intercourse. “The anus is the gateway to happiness,” Sophocles wrote, and similar declarations can be found in the Upanishads. Glen Kleeg, Zen Buddhist roshi and ski instructor, will discuss his own sexual evolution, as well as the teachings of the sutras. Through group exercises and demonstrations, participants will become comfortable with this once forbidden area.



“Every patriot, in another nation, would be a traitor,” John Locke wrote. In fact, many of those now labeled terrorists by Time magazine are seen as civic, and even spiritual, leaders in their own communities. Ahula Rakhnin, seamstress, poet, and demolitions expert, will explain how terrorism has evolved for her from a passing fascination during her childhood in Israel’s West Bank into a profound mystical path. “Death can come for me at any time,” says Ahula. “I may even be shot during this workshop. Still, I continue to sew, embroidering two handkerchiefs a day with the colors of the Palestinian flag. The more I sew, the less I fear.” Ahula will explain the principles of radical Islam, the relationship between inward and outward liberation, and the preparation of certain simple explosives. Participants will be strip-searched.



“It is no coincidence that toast and Taoist have all the same letters, except for the letter i,” says Herb Grin, toastmaster of the International Taoist Congress. It is believed that Lao Tzu lived on toast and lemonade for seventeen years, and the exact moment at which to remove toast from the toaster is the subject of three Taoist volumes separated by thirty-five hundred years. In this workshop, participants will learn to brown toast, butter it, and eat it. A continuation, “What to Do with the Crumbs,” will be offered later this summer.