My Experience with the Master Key System

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite

As I sat in the podiatrist office sticking out my foot for my second injection of cortisone, I looked over my toes, met my doctor’s eyes and said, “You know I don’t need orthotics. I brought this on because I willed it.” The doctor and his assistants looked at each other with a twinkle in their eyes. “No really! A very athletic woman in my gym complained about a machine giving her planter fasciitis that was so bad that she had to go to the emergency room. I thought she was a big cry baby. I suppose I needed to get more empathy so I had to experience this pain myself” I did not remember what this pain felt like when I had it 20 years ago and could not have envisioned the three months of excruciating pain that my fluid filled inflamed heel would have. Perhaps on some level; I wanted the challenge because I developed my own fasciitis within weeks.  Was I experiencing the “Law of Attraction” in my life?

The concept of the mind being able to manifest reality has been the basis for a genre known as “success-literature”, proselytized by champions of positive thinking such as Norman Vincent Peal, and Napoleon Hill. The concept also is the primary premise of New Age writers such as Carolyn Myss and Louise Hay. The law of attraction is basically “like attracts like”;  negative thoughts bring poverty and sickness and positive thoughts manifest health and prosperity Much of the criticism of the law is that it gives the mind too much power over what many perceive to be uncontrollable events for the poor and the unfortunate. Does the curmudgeon deserve to get cancer? But this is an oversimplification of the law which at its core questions the nature of reality and deserves more space than I can give in a short blog post.

My most recent encounter with the “Law of Attraction” was when I happened upon a peculiar book at our town library’s used book sale. The book titled, “The Master Key” was very old and the copyright was for the year 1916. I had never heard of the author, Charles Haanel, but upon closer inspection, I found that the book was published by a St. Louis publishing company and it appeared to be an early form of correspondence course that offered the reader the ability to create, Power, Health and Prosperity. I bought the book with the intention to send it to my bookophile father from St Louis. I ended up buying the public domain book on Kindle for myself with the plan to actually go through the almost 100 year old course.

But I should have paid attention to Haanel’s warning that “modern psychology tells us that if we start something and do not complete it, or make a resolution and do not keep it we are forming the habit of failure; absolute ignominious failure. If you do not intend to do a thing, do not start; see it through even if heavens fall…” because my efforts -so far -have not gone past week three:

Week One: required tremendous effort because my exercise was to sit erectly in a chair for 20-25 minutes and not lounge. Week one actually took me two weeks to complete. If I could have lounged, I’m sure it would have been easier.

Week Two: required me to sit in chair and think of nothing. Haanel admits that this is difficult. The problem is that he does not suggest a thought or word to replace the “non thoughts” such as OM or I AM, so I spent time trying to channel Haanel’s spirit to see if he might have any ideas for me. He did’nt.

Week Three: required me to sit erectly, inhibit all thought and relax. It was very hard to relax because my thoughts were now busy concentrating on not lounging and falling asleep. At the end of week three, Haanel says that I should have very strong “Solar Plexus energy” –which is the sun of the body and source of great personal magnetism.


Haanel writes that we must first learn to control our physical selves before we can control our minds So far this process sounds like meditation and Chakra opening.  Haanel seems to have been very influenced by eastern thought. I do believe that he is on to something; after all he was a self-made millionaire. From what I have read of Haanel, Napoleon Hill acknowledged a tremendous debt to Haanel’s ideas in his own “Master Key System to Riches” other contributors to Hill’s “Master Key System” were Andre Carnegie, Ford and Edison –more self- made men. This hardly seems to have been main stream thinking for the day. As I became more curious to learn about Haanel and where he might have come up with this course, I learned that he was in correspondence with woman, Elizabeth Towne, who founded her own publishing company.

Towne was at the center of a movement in the United States called, New Thought, which drew its philosophy from many influences of the last two centuries such as Mesmerism and Transcendentalism. Towne’s self-improvement writings are much more accessible to me and quite frankly her Solar Plexus strengthening exercises are much easier since they just require lying down and taking deep abdominal breaths. I am sure that I am getting more and more magnetism every day.

 Since these New Thought author’s books are now public domain, you too can have access to the Master Key System! You will find that these old ideas are embedded in almost every self- help book you pick up today.


This post was also published on Open Salon.

What Martha Washington Can Teach Us About Politics Today

Portrait of Martha Washington-Hollow-cut silhouette on linen CA 1798. Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

The brouhaha which surrounds the David Barton book, Jefferson Lies, has made me wonder what is it that makes one history book more popular than another? Moreover, why do we persist on wanting to believe that our founding fathers (and their wives) were impervious to self-serving inclinations? Today’s politicians lead us into a grey area of morality yet we persistently raise up our founding fathers as examples of moral and religious superiority. To the historians, who dare to question this premise, we call them leftist revisionists – and in some of the rarer cases of explorations on these founding women, we call these historians:” feminists”. Coincidentally, I have just finished two biographies of Martha Washington; the first book was: Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty by Helen Bryan written in 2002 and the second: Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady written in 2005. The first 50 pages of both of the books are so similar that I wondered why Brady’s was not considered a copyright infringement on the earlier book. However, Brady’s seemed to be the more popular of the two

Brady’s book made it into paperback, and had a nice blurb from Cokie Roberts, additionally, even NPR picked up an interview over the sexy age regression-ed photo of Martha Washington that adorns the cover. Did Brady have a better editor or publisher? What exactly was cut out of those 100 pages? In  Bryan’s book there are many anecdotes about the gossip, lore and the technicalities of the laws of inheritance and slavery system which contained the essence for the perpetuation of the Washington’s large fortune.

A composite image of portraits of Martha Washington Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis and Michael J Deas

To read Bryan, one might see Martha as a much more calculating being than the love smitten Martha of Brady. It is the missing hundred pages which build a case for a very complicated Martha. In Bryan’s Martha, we see a rich widowed woman who chose George because she knew that her and her two children’s money would be better protected with him than many other suitors. Bryan maintains that it was essential that she remarry to sustain and manage the large plantations that she had just inherited from her first husband. Bryan’s Martha was a “clothes horse” who continued to buy imported English goods well after her patriot sisters turned to home spun in the northern states. Both George and Martha had very friendly relationships with the British appointed Governors during the turbulent late 60s and even attended a ball to honor Governor and Lady Dunmore as late as May 1774. In fact, early in the war, there were rumors that she and George had separated because she was actually a Loyalist (Many of the southern planters were slow to join the liberty movement). Martha made a calculated journey to winter headquarters to improve her image. Bryan refers to her trip in her homespun as an act of “spin doctoring”.

Then there was the slavery. Although Brady gives this incident a mention, she does not give it the treatment that Bryan does. While George and Martha lived in Philadelphia during Washington’s term as president in 1791, a new law was passed in Pennsylvania which allowed slaves to claim their freedom after six months of residency in that state. George and Martha prepared a plan to send their servants back to Mount Vernon on small errands to ensure that those slaves would not be eligible to meet the residency requirements. It is here that Bryan notes: “Although George Washington is often held up as a model of enlightenment who freed his slaves on his death, the truth is more complex and less comfortable. His response to the new Pennsylvania law shows one side of his ambivalent attitude about slavery…while George was happy to go on using slaves, he had to be careful about how he was perceived by the public.” A letter that Bryan cites from George to his secretary Tobias Lear substantiates his awareness of image as he made arrangements for the transportation of Martha’s dower slaves back to Virginia while they were both traveling.

…in case I shall be found that any of my slaves may, or any of them shall attempt their freedom at the expiration of six months, it is my wish and desire that you send the whole, or such part of them as Mrs Washington may not chuse to keep home-for although I do not think they may be benefited by the change, yet the idea of freedom might be too great a temptation for them to resist. At any rate it might, if they conceived a right to it make them more insolent in a State of Slavery. As all except Hercules and Paris are dower Negroes, it behoves me to prevent the emancipation of them, otherwise I shall not only lose them, but may have them to pay for (under the law, George had use of Martha money  and use of dower slaves) If…it is found expedient to take them back to Virginia I wish to have it accomplished under pretext that I may deceive both them and the Public…

Bryan is not a historian; she is a lawyer (a London barrister) who grew up in Virginia. Brady is a “real” historian (well… she has a PhD in History). I was shocked that Brady did not even acknowledge Bryan as a source except to make note in the afterword that Bryan accepted “post-Civil war family mythology… disregarding Martha Washington’s moral and religious character…” Moreover, interestingly many of the reader comments in Amazon regarding the book, refer to Bryan as a “feminist, liberal” suffering from Slave guilt. Read them for your self. Perhaps together we will come up with the conclusion that although the 18th century America was a different time with a different economic system etc., politicians are really not so different in many ways – and we still want to believe that our heroes are perfect.

Previously Publish on Open Salon August 17 2012 under Snarkychaser (What Can Martha Teach Us About Today’s Politicians?)

If I Could Have Sex With George Washington

grayscale photo of mans face concrete statue
Photo by Todd Trapani

This week I had a conversation with a historian about the possibility of George Washington’s  homosexual inclinations (my theory not his). Who are the historians who address this? I am still searching. Washington had some very close relationships with his aides. In snippets of Washington’s letters to Joseph Reed there is almost the longing of a lover. Is it safe to assume that in times of war, men may turn to each other to fulfill needs when women are scarce? Many historians that I read – even historical fiction writers- have such sterile references to colonial sex. Since I intend to write a “trashy historical” novel set in colonial New Jersey, I am obsessed with getting an accurate feeling for what colonial sex was like.

It would take a book to discuss the regional, economic, religious and social distinctions which would have had an impact of sexual relations in the colonies, so I will outline the universal. Of course you may think that sex is sex and I realize that we could have endless discussions on sexual orientation, fetishes etc. What can we speculate that may differentiate 18th century colonial sex from ANY variety of modern world sex? If I were having sex with George Washington what would I experience? If I were in a room with George…..

  • Smell– People smell here. Body odors are so pervasive that the perfume industry is thriving. George’s body odor has an overlap of Caswell and Massey’s “Number Six” (a cologne introduced in 1750 s and a favorite of George Washington).  Sometimes I wear the Floris “Rose Geranium”  that I had been able to order it from London before British products became difficult and expensive to purchase (Or I might just use George’s  Six since there is little gender differentiation for perfume).   In addition to my own everyday body odor, my stench sometimes includes a trace of dried blood from my period that I had in the prior week. I use a sponge bath everyday but you know how hard it is to clean blood when it is allowed to  Stream down your legs for so long . Of course George and I both have a lingering smell of feces. I know that the myth is that colonials used corn cobs to wipe our bowel movements -but I know George, he likes his luxuries and often uses devalued Continental currency. To wipe my filth, I have a reusable piece of muslin that I wash and use when I know that George will be visiting me. Of course if I were Martha I would have a slave lady’s maid do it for me. George might also have the smell of horse sweat on him.
  • Taste – George has very “bad breath”. His teeth are rotten but so are mine. In fact, most ladies have rotting teeth by 18. George is not much of a kisser since he is so self-conscious.  He does like to bite with his gums but I think that is just to keep me in my place. There is always a hint of pus and infection when he breathes on me.  He has a chronic sinus problem and since we don’t have antibiotics, he just lives with a general malaise.
  • Visual-I have been pregnant twelve times. I have stretched out skin around my lower belly but George never sees this since I always wear some clothes when we have sex. My sister has had twenty-one pregnancies but only two of her children have survived to adulthood. I never look at George without clothes.  It is very dark when we have sex since candles are a luxury and George does not really seem to want to look at me anyway. I have touched his “manhood” through his breeches. They are so tight I think it may rip the silk.
  • Touch– Sex with George hurts. He never waits until I am moist enough to accommodate his “manhood”. I have an itching that I can’t quite get rid myself of. It feels as though my insides are rusty. I have had some watery discharge from my woman’s parts for some time now -it has a smell of a dead dog but George does not stay long enough to notice.