Geomantic Information Systems
January 3, 2015 7:40 PM   Subscribe

The Occult Street Plan of Chico, California
Chico, California, like Santa Rosa is a beautiful small California city that enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate. Chico is tucked in neatly on the east face of the interphase of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. It says "The city of roses" with a silhouette of John Bidwell, Chico's founder, on the original crest of Chico. The city has recently changed the crest to a more modern design that hides the estoteric meanings of the old one. This has also been happening also at many major universities and colleges. The new crest does have a nice big oak tree which can be interpreted in Celtic lore as the center of the world or a version of the Roman Axis Mundi. The city of Chico is also a model of occult or Masonic city planning that is oriented on a ley line (latitude) of ancient origin and symbolism.
posted by the man of twists and turns (38 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you were laying out a town from scratch, how could you not bake in a bunch of occult references?
posted by ryanrs at 7:44 PM on January 3, 2015 [15 favorites]


If you were laying out a town from scratch, how could you not bake in a bunch of occult references?

You laugh, but it's probably pretty difficult to lay down a geometry that you couldn't argue alludes to _something_ "occult", intentional or not. It's not like there's a shortage of crazy out there.

This was the gag in Foucault's Pendulum, incidentally.
posted by mhoye at 7:58 PM on January 3, 2015 [19 favorites]


Laugh while you can, but wait until Vinz Clortho and Zuul show up to summon Gozer in the town square. Many Shubs and Zulls will know what it is to be roasted in the depths of a Sloar that day, I can tell you!
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:05 PM on January 3, 2015 [45 favorites]


So... there's a Hellmouth under the high school, is what you're saying.
posted by nonasuch at 8:10 PM on January 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


Wake up sheeple!

You're late for work.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:45 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Unlike Santa Rosa, Chico is the home to Sierra Nevada beer. So go contemplate the occult over a bottle of Sierra Nevada.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:49 PM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


All I can think about when I hear Chico now are Five Second Films.

"I'm Chico's Reckoning..."
posted by nanojath at 8:49 PM on January 3, 2015


It's kind of a shame that America lost the kind of weirdness that led to things like this, but I guess it's for the best long term.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:51 PM on January 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sheesh, my teen years would've been a bit more interesting if my friends and I had known about this. I mean, we would've mocked it, and at least one's parents wouldn't have allowed her to have anything to do with it due to the "occult" part, but it would've been something different to talk about and we could've ridden our bikes around to the different places. ("Lookit me, I'm following a ley line!" "Shut up or S's dad won't let her come next time.")
posted by Lexica at 8:58 PM on January 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I read a long time in that redundundundant piece until the magic words for utter bullshit came up, then I comfortably closed it.

Bonafide students of archaeology and linguistics are establishing newly understood connections between ancient peoples and cultures, hopefully without dogmatic pre conclusions. This Dan Brownish stuff gives me a headache. Worse than this are the armchair DNA experts who completely dismiss Native American clan and tribal histories, mumph the DNA just doesn't bear this out.

My take on one of the mysteries is Jesus of Nazareth spends his forty days and nights with the devil, out on The Dugway Proving Grounds. Courtesy of alien technology he tells some Aramaic speaking military sort to get thee behind me satan, while Mary is buried near Vandenburg. Good luck with belief, it is stranger than reality.

What I don't get is all these men chasing their intellectual tails over time, worshipping each other, over time, then writing about it seriously. They should be ashamed by their effete inconsequential bullshittery.
posted by Oyéah at 8:58 PM on January 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter: effete inconsequential bullshittery
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:00 PM on January 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I guess that the occult street layouts are what make Chico State the party capital of the West, and not the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:04 PM on January 3, 2015


I am in a graduate program for urban planning and it is true that all of us seek to design cities that do nothing but serve the darkest of lords.

But to be honest, I'm getting kind of tired of the weekend bacchanals where in a blind frenzy of passion and madness we accidentally murder one of our fellow students.
posted by mcmile at 9:18 PM on January 3, 2015 [45 favorites]


Is it always on a certain grid point on the full moon of Zantara?
posted by Oyéah at 9:25 PM on January 3, 2015


There's a long, wonderful sequence in the From Hell comic where characters take a tour of occult London, pointing out the mystical meaning baked into the city's mundane details. I always loved that, but, at some point, it occurred to me that architecture tends to be so eccentric -- especially American architecture, which borrows from so many neoclassical themes -- that it might be possible to do this exact thing anywhere.

I've done in it Hollywood, but that was a bit of a cheat, since Hollywood is basically a town in disguise. It's pretty easy to do in New Orleans as well, but it helps that you're surrounded by the actual occult. The real challenge is somewhere that seems random, unlikely. I am in Omaha just now -- I shall have to take a look around my neighborhood for occult symbols. I know I have seen quite a few green men and there is at least one fairy door within a few blocks of here, so they do start becoming visible when you look for them, although they are hard to spot when you aren't.

Which is sort of the definition of "occult," now that I think about it.
posted by maxsparber at 10:32 PM on January 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


"The Mason Dixon line is also known as the Dragon Line."

...is my current favorite sentence of 2015.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:52 PM on January 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


The video is soothingly loopy. I recommend it.
Thanks for the post, the man of twists and turns! It's great to see new stuff on the esoteric folklore of Northern California. The stuff has a history going back well over a century, much of it centered on Mt. Shasta.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 11:04 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would absolutely vote for Senator Dragon Chico.
posted by homunculus at 11:46 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


+1 title. nice.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:26 AM on January 4, 2015


So your study of city planning included Enochian chess and the Axis Mundi, but didn't allow you to master the distinction between a Capitol and a capital?
posted by Segundus at 12:51 AM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seems like I should be listening to Boards of Canada whilst reading this.
posted by aesop at 2:27 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I lived in Chico.

It took me about 4 months to realize this cool setup in downtown with street names.

Chestnut
Hazel
Ivy
Cherry
Orange

I thought it was very cool.
Shout out to all my Chico peeps.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:00 AM on January 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


> "The real challenge is somewhere that seems random, unlikely."

Yeah, I live in freakin' Edinburgh, it's just not a challenge. Mysterious hand-carved cavern systems of unknown provenance? Down the way. Tiny doll coffins buried for a mysterious purpose? Up the hill. You want to see the Green Man? Hop on a bus (there's closer, but more than 100 in one place is pretty convenient.) There's a fairy mound in the middle of town, an underground city ...

It's too easy.
posted by kyrademon at 3:46 AM on January 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'm still not convinced this whole thing isn't a joke.

What do these sentences mean?

"The daily horoscopes of each structure or point within the 64 block square area can be plotted using the street plan."

"In fact the geomantic layout of Chico is stunningly similar to that of Washington D.C. though on a much smaller scale."

I've seen Washington DC. I'm looking at a map of Chico. In what sense - other than that they both have some areas laid out on a grid - are they even remotely similar?
posted by kcds at 7:36 AM on January 4, 2015


If I were ever in power and up to no good, I'd be seeding these types of clues all over the place to distract from my nefarious deeds. This may be why I'm not in power.
posted by arcticseal at 7:44 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's too easy.

Consider the sequence 10, 14, 29, 6, 1.

The 10 is an obvious allusion to the tenth symbol, Capricorn. Sign of the goat, whose constellation rises from the sky on the 14th - 14! - of January, in Sidereal measures of the Zodiac. A day comes that this ascendence intersects that of the moon - foretold by the number 29, number of days in the lunar cycle, and 6, which the Pythagoreans called the Perfection of Parts. In this moment of unity - a single perfect 1 - when the perfection of parts comes together, when the spirit of Man - also referenced by the sacred 6 - and the Goat of the Capricorn will be united, and speak with one voice.

This glorious foretelling - 10, 14, 29, 6, 1 - is also as of this writing the number of "favorites" granted by the (hallowed, mystical, unknowable) Metafilter community to the first five posts in this thread, much as the Brahmins speak of the 5 attributes of Men. While this deep knowledge is rarely spoken of openly, it must be obvious to a learned initiate of the rites such as yourself that this is no coincidence.
posted by mhoye at 7:47 AM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Even with the power of the occult on their side, Chico lost the competition for the county seat to Oroville.
posted by uraniumwilly at 8:00 AM on January 4, 2015


Unlike Santa Rosa, Chico is the home to Sierra Nevada beer. So go contemplate the occult over a bottle of Sierra Nevada.

Santa Rosa is home to Russian River Brewing... I'd far rather contemplate the occult over a Sanctification, Defenestration, Salvation, or Consecration. Or really, how better to contemplate anything than with Pliny?

Sierra Nevada is horrible one-note beer that tastes of nothing but Cascade. I hate Cascade.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:43 AM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm from Chico, and I stayed there for college too (Chico State--The Harvard of the West). I've spent many a night at The Palms (called the "Bohemian Grove" in the article), which, when I lived there, housed a bunch of burning man and new age type of people who were just awesome about sharing their weed with me and my friends. I feel like that crowd, particularly, would have been the ones to bring up this Geomancy theory about the street layout of our beloved town. Funnily, it never came up. I guess we were too busy scrounging a couple of bucks to head to Duffy's for a PBR. I did notice a prevalence of Masonic stars on the buildings downtown though, and even on some of the street gutters. So there's that.

Ah, Chico. I miss it! :)
posted by k8bot at 8:45 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a pretty stellar example of the human tendency to receive and process information within the context of our personal biases. It is as if the author treats history like video game lore, like it is a set of information one can manipulate to create specific outcomes.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:02 AM on January 4, 2015


I'm 100% willing to believe that some where in the U.S., some masons or cultists of one stripe or another designed a city to suit their dark purposes (see Salt Lake City, for example). But you're going to have to, at some point, tell me exactly who did it and why, before I get on board with your crackpot theory.
posted by empath at 10:01 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Breweries in Chico, huh? You ever notice the similarity between the six-pointed brewer's star and the Magen David? Just go back to the pagan meaning of the symbol...

Anyway, if you do but a single Google search for another brewing city, St. Louis, there's so much to learn. No wonder this place is a pit of chlamydia, gonorrhea, racism, and radioactivity.

No one had to make a conscious decision to make this the location of the gateway to hell—it's baked into the geography. Ley lines, man.
posted by limeonaire at 10:54 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Makes me want to re-read Tim Powers' Fault Lines trilogy, especially Last Call.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:32 PM on January 4, 2015


John Bidwell was an ardent prohibitionist, and on behalf of the Prohibition Party ran for Governor in 1880 and President in 1892.

The 1914 campaign song "We'll Make California Dry" was dedicated to him. The lyrics:
We'll make California dry; We'll make California dry; we'll work and pray, fight, vote and say, We'll make California dry, yes dry.
(The only copies of sheet music I've seen online are on eBay auction pages. It's quite a jaunty tune.)

Bidwell died in 1900, so he missed hearing that song, and also missed prohibition being adopted nationwide in 1920. As the headquarters of Sierra Nevada Brewing, and site of Chico State, the city didn't quite turn out the way he hoped.
posted by kurumi at 2:45 PM on January 4, 2015


No Canberra residents in here, apparently.
posted by Wolof at 5:47 PM on January 4, 2015


My preferred ley line is: "Hey, doll, I can't help but wonder how that dress would look on my bedroom floor."

Very little magic ensues, though.
posted by Chitownfats at 2:46 AM on January 5, 2015


Anyway, if you do but a single Google search for another brewing city, St. Louis, there's so much to learn. No wonder this place is a pit of chlamydia, gonorrhea, racism, and radioactivity.

Man, if those are the names of the new Bud microbrew spinoffs, Anheuser-Busch has really got to do something to better appease the Dark Lord.
posted by psoas at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2015


I'm from Chico, and I stayed there for college too (Chico State--The Harvard of the West)

Ummm. Isn't Stanford the Harvard of the West? Chico is more like the Florida State of the West.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


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