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Today's Stichomancy for Richard Branson

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Father Sergius by Leo Tolstoy:

So he thought in rare moments of lucidity, but his usual state of mind was one of weariness and a tender pity for himself because of that weariness.

It was in spring, on the eve of the mid-Pentecostal feast. Father Sergius was officiating at the Vigil Service in his hermitage church, where the congregation was as large as the little church could hold--about twenty people. They were all well-to-do proprietors or merchants. Father Sergius admitted anyone, but a selection was made by the monk in attendance and by an assistant who was sent to the hermitage every day from the monastery. A crowd of some eighty people--pilgrims and peasants,

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Foolish Virgin by Thomas Dixon:

"The man--her son?"

"Yes. We came last night from Asheville. We were on our honeymoon. We haven't been married but three weeks. I never knew the truth about his life and character until last night when he told me that this old woman was his mother. I found a case of jewels in the bag he carried--jewels that belonged to a man in New York who was robbed and shot. I recognized the case. He confessed to me at last in cold, brutal words that he was a thief. I couldn't believe it at first. I tried to make him give up his criminal career.

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James:

shallower and a profounder sphere, in either of which he may learn to live more habitually. The shallower and lower sphere is that of the fleshly sensations, instincts, and desires, of egotism, doubt, and the lower personal interests. But whereas Christian theology has always considered FROWARDNESS to be the essential vice of this part of human nature, the mind-curers say that the mark of the beast in it is FEAR; and this is what gives such an entirely new religious turn to their persuasion.

"Fear," to quote a writer of the school, "has had its uses in the evolutionary process, and seems to constitute the whole of forethought in most animals; but that it should remain any part

The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from Padre Ignacio by Owen Wister:

some of its savor had gone; for the siren voice of Life had been speaking with him face to face, and in his spirit, deep down, the love of the world was restlessly answering it. Young Gaston showed more eagerness than the Padre over this arrival of the vessel that might be bringing Trovatore in the nick of time. Now he would have the chance, before he took his leave, to help rehearse the new music with the choir. He would be a missionary, too: a perfectly new experience.

"And you still forgive Verdi the sins of his youth?" he said to his host. "I wonder if you could forgive mine?"

"Verdi has left his behind him," retorted the Padre.

"But I am only twenty-five!" exclaimed Gaston, pathetically.