African Mask (1926)

I went to a garage sale to find the next item. A man sat at a table in the back of his garage while I perused his stuff. It was late in the day, garage sales close down early in Arizona because of the heat, and no other patron was present when I arrived. I looked around, taking my time to touch a few things on one of the tables. Occasionally something will call to me so I’m never in a hurry.
I spied a shelf, down low near the floor of the garage, that had some masks on it. These drew me right over. Some were from Kenya and others from different places. I squatted down and was checking them out, one by one, asking the price and origin of each. There was a green one that looked like a dragon, from China, that I focused on but when I held it, nothing came to me so I put it down. At this point, from over my left shoulder, I heard a man’s voice. Another would be buyer had shown up. I didn’t look at him as he knelt beside me and started doing the same thing I was. He picked up a few masks and asked the same questions I did. This was where I felt him, his energy got stronger as it came at me (we were nearly elbow to elbow) “Desire,” that’s the word I got when I felt his vibration. We handed masks back and forth,”Hey, check out the back of this one,” “Feel the weight of this one, it’s heavier than the rest.”
I took a mask in hand, one of the heavy ones, and slowly walked over to the man behind the table when from out of nowhere the other guy grabs the mask right out of my hand and offers the homeowner more money than he’d asked if he could take the two of them. I was dumbfounded. I was pissed. The exchange that followed, and ended with me having the mask back in my hand, was full of colorful expletives that flowed from my mouth. Now I may be tall and lean, but I’m no pushover.
One thing I didn’t do was to make eye contact with this guy during the exchange. I never got in his face or threatened him. I have a good idea of what I can do and never use it unnecessarily on anyone.
There was obviously a reason for the exchange. I was there at the exact moment that man arrived and was in the exact location for the whole thing to take place. The only thing I can figure is that I did him a favor by knocking him down a notch. His arrogance, self-righteousness, judgmental actions (probably based on the way I was dressed, I’d just gotten off of a job and it was messy) led him to believe that I was going to put up with him, or at least scurry away. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life but meek isn’t one of them.
So that’s how I got this mask, I wonder what it’ll show me…
A dark skinned man, he’s working under a roughly built shelter with a grass or straw roof. There are many men there doing the same thing as him, carving masks for the master.
These men don’t speak English and the tools they use are very simple. They wear long red skirts that are just above the ground and no shoes.
There are lions that live nearby, the men see them almost daily.
This mask is only one style, there are many different ones being worked on. Some are much taller and others are more squat and round.
They use grass or straw to pack the masks up in boxes when they are completed.
They start out with blocks of wood. They carry stacks of them on their heads, taken off the back of a truck. I see the man’s hands as he runs them over the piece of wood he was given. The backs are dark black and his palms are powdery white.
They have different stations to work at. The rough shaping is done at a table. They use what looks like a piece of chalk t draw the outline of what the mask will look like. There is a finished mask that they use for a pattern.
 The man draws it very carefully, where the eyes will go and the mouth. He’s talking, another man comes over to help him with something. They have a too to mark distance, like a compass, it’s only two sticks that are held together tightly, bound with string or twine. After the shape is traced the eyes are marked for location with an X. Then the mouth and the nose last. The helping man pats him on the back and then returns to his own station where he’s putting the finishing touches on his own mask.
I disrupted the flow here by picking up the mask and examining it. I got so into the scene that my mind kicked in. This is the first time I might actually learn a skill through psychometry so I got a little excited.
Looking at a flower mesmerizes you because of its natural beauty, it needs no explanation or searching. An item that was crafted has a story. there are threads attached to it that lead to the craftsman and anyone else that formed an emotional attachment to it after it’s creation. Perhaps it was a gift from a loved one. After that loved one has moved far away or passed on to the next life the thread becomes stronger.
I’ll look for some answers, specific ones, to learn as much of the story of this mask as I can.  Who, who made it?
One man takes the block of wood, he’s young, he does all the rough shaping because he’s new at this. An older man shows him how to trace the shape onto the block, “Don’t cut off too much, ” he’s told in his own language.
The wood is dense and hard to cut. He turns it on its edge and uses a heavy blade And something to hit it with. (the blade looks like a machete that’s been cut short and ground down. (I can’t see a hammer at this stage, I think he just swings the blade)
     What was his name?   Ooday, (spelled phonetically) Ooday was the young apprentice woodworker.
     Where in Africa are they?   South, way south. The word “Johnsburg” comes.
     When, when was this mask made? “1926” comes as words.
The old man watches Ooday work. He warns him that if he cuts himself it won’t heal…



The sauce ladle still vexes me. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, not yet anyway. One thing that I do know for sure is that the more I look, the more I find and the more I find, the greater my desire to understand how and why this works.

I acquired this compass at an estate sale. Since Arizona has become the new Florida in terms of desirable places to retire, there is an abundance of souls departing the earth from this station. The things they leave behind (which is all their worldly possessions) are swiftly sold to the highest bidder by their surviving relatives.

I remember going to one such sale. After walking through the house and perusing the personal effects of some anonymous old man, I said to the gentleman running the sale, “Someone died in this house.” He could neither confirm nor deny the fact. Surprised at my statement, he said, “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know. We just run the sale, the family doesn’t usually give us that kind of information.”

The reason I asked the gentleman running the sale this question (as I exited the house) was because the house felt different to me, not like others I’d visited looking for items. When I entered, I felt like I was stepping over the threshold of a mortuary right in the middle of a viewing. It was like an eerie, somber silence filled every corner of every room. The other people who were shopping the possessions of the deceased were quiet and reserved, no one spoke above a loud whisper. Who knows, I just observe and feel what other people are numb to.

Let’s see what this little compas has to tell me. I examined it closely. It’s tough to tell by looking at it how much use it got. The piece of lead still in it is less than a half inch long. The body is stainless steel. On one side the number 54 is engraved along with the initials PTS. On one side of the thumb wheel are the words VEMCO and Pasadena.

-I see a man sitting at a desk or horizontal table. There’s a bright lamp in front of him, in the center of the table but not on it, maybe a floor lamp. The words “Drafting table” come through loud and clear.

– Large sheets of white paper, one is taped to the drafting table, by the corners. The tape is narrow and blue. There is a circle on the paper, somewhere near the center.

-The words, Chrysler LaBarron”   There’s a cup on the edge of the table in front of him, to the right of the lamp. It’s full of other drafting tools, weird looking metal pencils and other things with knobs on the sides.

-“Link Pin” comes as words when I ask what’s on the paper. I see an image of the circle in the center of the paper with some horizontal lines of different lengths next to it, on the right, one is at an angle.

-“1994” comes as words when I ask the date. “June 9th” comes as words. I get the impression that I’m not in the house I bought it in. He lived somewhere else when he used this compas the most.

-There is a degree hanging on the wall behind him, to his left. It’s in a nice frame. “Dixon” comes as words, then “Straup”(spelling could be different, but sounds like this), “Paul T.” “Masters of engineering”  Then the word “Illinois.”

-A filing cabinet full of papers. Lots of papers on a shelf. Big papers, things he’s drawn, pictures. One of them is a hubcap design.

-Mary is his wife’s name. They were married 47 years when she died, he finished his life alone. He sits on a stool behind his drafting table, not in a chair. “Roll up my sleeves and get to work,” he would say often.  “Brandy,” He’d drink it when he was all done working. He made a lot of money as an engineer, “$103,000.00” comes as words.

– Something plagued his health, even then he knew he was sick. Paid lots of doctor bills. “Leukemia,” came as words.

-I see him drawing gears with his compas, “Ring and Pinion,” comes as words.

There’s probably lots more, but out of respect for the dead, I’m going to stop here. Now I get to look and see if anything I got is quantifiable. Dixon Illinois has a college that teaches engineering. There is also a Dixon college. The compas checks out as being old, can’t get an exact date but based on the box it was sold in, it’s old enough, 50’s or 60’s I’d say.

Dixon Illinois has a college that teaches engineering. There is also a Dixon college. The compas checks out as being old, can’t get an exact date but based on the box it was sold in, it’s old enough, 50’s or 60’s I’d say.