Week of September 23rd, 2021

Your Mind Is Always Free

At every moment, your mind is free—free to reject any thoughts, impulses, and feelings that are barreling into it from who-knows-where. Free to leap to some fresh perspective, inspiring thought, or deep feeling.

It’s true! You can have deep feeling ten seconds from now if you want. All you have to do is turn your mind to a memory that stimulates deep feeling or to a future fantasy that stimulates deep feeling.


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FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Here's a link to my free weekly email newsletter, featuring the Free Will Astrology horoscopes, plus a celebratory array of tender rants, lyrical excitements, poetic philosophy, and joyous adventures in consciousness. It arrives every Tuesday morning by 7:30 am.

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GLIDING, FLOWING, SKIPPING, AND TWIRLING

Maybe you're better than you think you are at gliding, flowing, leaping, skipping, twirling, undulating, reverberating, galloping, and rub-a-dub-dubbing.

It's possible that with just a small attitude adjustment you could be an expert at rumbling, romping, rollicking, cavorting, and zip-a-dap-doodling.

If you really love your body and throw off some of the inhibitions you might have about celebrating your instinctual nature, you may drop to the low end of the scale in performing these activities: shuffling, drooping, mumbling, wallowing, pigeonholing, and pussyfooting.

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PLEASURE ACTIVISM: THE POLITICS OF FEELING GOOD

adrienne maree brown wrote the book Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

Here's a review (which I didn't write, but I'm not sure who did):

How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience?

How can we awaken within ourselves desires that make it impossible to settle for anything less than a fulfilling life?

Author and editor adrienne maree brown finds the answer in something she calls “pleasure activism,” a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work.

Drawing on the Black feminist tradition, she challenges us to rethink the ground rules of activism.

More info.


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HOW CAN WE CONTRIBUTE TO STOPPING ECOCIDE?

M. H. Abrams writes: “Scientists have taken the lead to persuade us, by an appeal to facts, of the threat to the natural world. Is it enough to know the facts? Or will it take a revival and dissemination of the Romantic vision of nature to enable us, in Shelley’s phrase, ‘to imagine that which we know.’

"It's likely that only such a motive power—such an emotive power—will release the energies, the invention, and the will to make the sacrifices needed if we are to salvage this no-longer-quite-so-green earth while it is still fit to live on.”

—M. H. Abrams, from the essay “This Green Earth: The Vision of Nature in the Romantic Poets”

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How can we influence people to stop their desecration and extermination of nature? How can we motivate people to stop committing genocide against animal species? My suggestions:

1. Show people scientific data that shocks them into acknowledging how much harm human activity is inflicting.

2. Speak to people about the sin of bequeathing their descendants a damaged, impoverished planet.

3. Ask people to dissolve the unethical greed that leads them to consume so many of the earth's resources and produce too much waste.

4. Cultivate and express smart love for the interconnected web of life. Feel it deeply.

5. Celebrate the fact that there are other forms of consciousness and intelligence besides just the human kind. Cultivate loving relationships with them.

6. Embody the hypothesis that spending time in wild places enhances one's mental hygiene and physical health.

7. Value the feminine as much as the masculine.

8. Cultivate the art of empathy, and demonstrate how to make it flourish in everything you do.

9. Show what it means to think with your heart and feel with your head.

10. Stay in close touch with the Mysterium, the other real world that is the root of the material world.

11. Vow to bring the I-Thou dynamic to bear on all your relationships.

12. Be as curious about intimacy as you are about power.


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CONSPIRACY THEORIES

From the perspective of most modern conspiracy theorists, the conspiracies they imagine to be loose in the world have been dreamed up and are perpetrated by coordinated groups of evil people.

The pronoia conspiracy theory, on the other hand, is rooted in a hypothesis at the core of Western Hermetic Magick, which is what I have studied with love for years:

Here's the hypothesis: that life is divine play—an art project/game/ceremony designed by a loving Creator. This Creator, whose consciousness pervades every cubic centimeter of the universe, provides all necessary help and tools for us to be liberated from our suffering and realize our essential oneness with all beings in the process of developing, over millennia of incarnations, a unique and beautiful personal identity.


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WISH LIST

Overturn Citizen's United

You get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible.

Make large cuts in U.S. defense spending

Fight to attain freedom from our own unconscious obsessions and conditioned responses.

Work to substitute renewable energy sources for fossil fuels.

Meditate on the hypothesis that if there is any such thing as enlightenment, it arises from empathy, sympathy, compassion, tenderness, and a quest to be in intimate connection with and in service to other beings.

End filibuster abuse

Wrestle and negotiate with our own shadows, making preemptive strikes on our personal share of the world's evil, fighting the good fight to keep from spewing our darkness on those around us.

Universal single-payer health care and health insurance

Develop a strategy to avoid being enthralled with the hypnotic lure of painful emotions, past events, and worries about the future

Restore Glass–Steagal

Kill off the reflexes within us that resonate in harmony with consumerism, militarism, misogyny, authoritarianism, and superstition.

Keep abortion, safe, legal, and well-funded

realize that you carry with you at least one piece to someone else's puzzle.

Ensure equal opportunity for all genders and people of all sexual preference.

Put a premium on developing our emotional intelligence and empathy

End gerrymandering

Your wise and affectionate attention is your gift to other people and to animals

Expand the Supreme Court

Decrease your connection with anything that demeans your spirit, shrinks your lust for life, limits your freedom, neglects your soul, compromises your integrity, dishonors your reverence, inhibits your self-expressiveness, or alienates you from what you love.

Institute a wealth tax on the richest 1%

You break all trances that keep you ignorant of your own magic

Campaign finance reform, specifically stopping the "legalized" bribery known as lobbying and stopping the use of "matching funds" from US taxpayer money dollar for dollar for all monies contributed to the two major parties.

You cultivate your profound receptivity to subtle miracles, beguiling ephemera, marvelous breakthroughs

Ensure that all US citizens have automatic access to voting registration and the ability to vote in the manner of their choosing


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FUNDAMENTALIST MATERIALISM

Graham Hancock says: What if consciousness is fundamental? Too much of modern science is based on the philosophical position that matter is the fundamental basis of "reality" and consciousness is secondary.

Later this month a group of brilliant speakers will challenge the unproven assumptions underlying scientific materialism in an online summit. Link in comments below.

More about the Consciousness Unbound online summit.

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The superstition of materialism is the dominant ideology of a majority of people in the world. It's the specious doctrine that physical matter is the only reality and that nothing can be said to exist unless it's perceivable by a human being's five senses or detected by technologies that humans have created.

Materialism paradoxically preaches the value of being agnostic about all phenomena it does not recognize as real, even as it obsessively evades questions about its own fundamentalist assumptions.

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Militant atheists make the claim that religion has always been a primary cause of war. If humans weren't under the sway of "the God delusion," they fume, armed conflicts would be infrequent.

But military historian Eric Bergerud, author of four books about various wars, says that's absurd. He notes that while there have been a few religious wars, "most wars in history have been driven by the lust for power and loot."

In other words, the materialist delusion is far more lethal than the God delusion. People who believe there's nothing of value beyond what the five senses can perceive are often the most dangerous of all.


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REDEMPTION STORY

My weekly astrology column is called "Free Will Astrology," but for many years it was "Real Astrology." Here's the story of where "Real Astrology" came from.

Around the same time I started writing horoscopes decades ago, I co-founded the band Tao Chemical in Santa Cruz, CA. We were beloved by many people—but also hated. The punks hated us for being New Wave, and the New Wavers hated us for being punk.

And both punks and New Wavers hated us for being hippies. Their demand was essentially, "Be one pure genre, not a melange of different genres."

We were feminists and advocates for LGBTQIA people. Since a lot of the punks were macho homophobes back then, they detested this aspect of our message.

We embodied the punk values of sarcasm and satire and anarchy, but also expressed joy, optimism, and uplift. The fact that we were uncategorizable enraged the punks who thought artists should choose a niche and stick to it. How ironic that they were imitating the corporate marketing mavens they allegedly loathed.

There wasn't an official Cancel Culture back then, but we experienced full-on Cancel Culture. One of Tao Chemical's members even got beat up by punks who despised the band's message.

There was one guy — I'll call him Rennie Nova — who took a special dislike for me and us. He would bring his posse to Tao Chemical's shows and harass and heckle us.

Then he upped the ante. He told us he was casting black magic spells against us. He and his crew would stand in the audience at our shows drawing invisible upside-down pentagrams in the air, burning black candles and putrid incense, and scowling at us with their curse faces.

I countered by doing spells of psychic self-defense and the psycho-spiritual equivalent of Tai-Chi: expressing no anger or distress, but affirming that his absurd behavior would bounce off me and go back to him.

None of his harassment ever resulted in violence, thank Goddess. Eventually, he gave up.

In addition to being an early leader of Cancel Culture, Rennie Nova was a punk musician who called his band "Real Music." I loved the "Real" part tagged on to such a generic term as "music."

As my ultimate revenge against him, I stole "Real" and tacked it on to "Astrology," and called my column "Real Astrology."

That series of events was the beginning of my experience of being hated and attacked for putting out my creations—and seeking redemption from it.

Little did I know at the time that this was just the beginning of learning how to remain staunch in the face of such bullshit—how to keep being my true self even in the face of people who didn't like my true self or want me to be my true self.


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THREE INVITATIONS

First invitation: Weed out the wishy-washy wishes and lukewarm longings that keep you distracted from your burning desires.

Second invitation: Refuse to think that anyone else knows better than you what dreams will keep your life energy humming with maximum efficiency and grace.

Third invitation: Say this out loud to see how it feels: "I know exactly what I want. I know exactly what I don't want. I know exactly what I kind of want but I won't waste my time on it because it sidetracks me from working on what I really want."


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THE HEROES' JOURNEY TOGETHER

In the old-fashioned patriarchal vision of myth, the hero is typically a solitary male who renounces intimate companionship to pursue his glorious, arduous quest. Along the way, sporadic help may arrive from an ineffable muse or deity.

But there are alternative scenarios for the hero's journey. In the tantric tradition, for instance, a seeker's connection with a beloved human companion is essential to his or her spiritual inquiry.

Some early Christians described Jesus and Mary Magdalene as equal collaborators. Sufi mystic poet Rumi may not have actually made love with his teacher Shams (then again, he might have), but it's clear the two men sought divine communion together, not through lonely solo work.

Some modern teachers have also broken from the narrow perspective. The quest for illumination, they say, can thrive on the challenges of loving and living with an actual person. In John Welwood's Love and Awakening, the author re­imagines relationship as an "alliance of warriors" devoted to awakening each other's "holy longing."


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DEAR READERS: If you would like to contribute to me and my ongoing well-being:

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3. You can also contribute by buying the Expanded Audio Horoscopes I create every week. These forecasts are different from the written horoscopes I provide here.

They're my four- to five-minute-long ruminations about the current chapter of your life story. They're available at RealAstrology.com

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I have offered my astrology newsletter free of charge for the past 20 years, and I will continue to do so for the next 20 years at least.

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P.S.: No pressure, though! I understand that some of you don't have enough money yourself, and it wouldn't make sense for you to give some to me.


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WHERE DOES HELP COME FROM?

I get many requests from people who are going through challenging times in their lives and would like my personal advice. I wish I could respond to these inquiries, because they are often profound and well-thought-out, demonstrating an ability to define the problems at hand with lucid insight.

Unfortunately, I can't respond. My various lines of work are too demanding to add any other tasks to my life, no matter how interesting they might be. But I've developed a general response to those people who seek my personal input. I'm offering it below.

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I'm honored that you regard me as someone who might be able to provide answers or solace, but I don't think it would be responsible for me to fling advice your way without knowing more about the complexities of your problem. And I'm afraid I can't give the time necessary to explore those complexities.

The only thing I'll suggest, as you seek to clarify your situation, is for you to arrange to go on a retreat. During that time of withdrawal from the world's everyday madness, I urge you to avoid all media and to be as silent and relaxed as it's possible for you to be.

During the first part of your retreat, spend hours visualizing in your mind's eye the entire story of your life, from the earliest memory to the present moment.

During the second phase of your retreat, begin your meditations by establishing contact with the highest source of wisdom and love within you. You can call this source God or Goddess or your Guardian Angel or Higher Self. Spend luxurious time in dialogue with this source, making sure to ask these questions:

1. "What is it I want more than anything else?"

2. "What is the best way to serve the mission I came to Earth to carry out? What are the very best gifts I have to offer other humans?"

3. "What path will allow me to ultimately learn the most about wise love?"

4. "How do I need to change in order to get what I want, carry out my life's mission, and learn about wise love? What influences and attitudes do I need to eliminate?"

During the third phase of the process, write out a mission statement: what you want to accomplish by the time you die many years hence. Then create a master plan of the actions you will take in order to make that mission statement come true. Include three actions you will take in the next month to get more serious about accomplishing your mission.

During the fourth phase, visualize the following scenarios in lush detail: that God/Goddess loves you, that the entire universe is conspiring to give you the lessons and blessings and kicks in the ass and liberations you need exactly when you need them, and that you are ready to welcome that love and guidance with all your heart.

P.S. I'm a big believer in trusting your intuition. Even if it doesn't lead you to what your ego thinks is a successful outcome, your intuition will always guide you to the experiences that your soul needs.


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I AM YOU AND YOU ARE ME AND WE ARE ALL TOGETHER

"Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves.

"The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath.

"Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred."

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation


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HOW TO BECOME MORE OPTIMISTIC

Kate Rockwood writes: Try to think of three new things you’re happy about while brushing your teeth at night. The word "new" is important. If you let yourself repeat items, you might default to some variation of 'family, friends, and health' every day.

But if you have to come up with three novel, specific reasons to be happy or grateful, your brain will naturally start making mental notes of things you can include in your list throughout the day.

More info


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I LOVE ASTROLOGY

People who hate astrology assert that consulting a horoscope column or getting a reading from a professional astrologer is not a sound approach to making good decisions abut one's life.

The haters never follow up that assurance with a detailed revelation of what ARE valid ways to gather the data and insights and ideas so as to make good decisions about one's life.

Do they know about some Bureau of Acceptable Life Information that can help us determine what is and what is not worth consulting as we chart the course of our destiny?

I don't mean to be glib. I am honestly puzzled by the apparent certainty that there are unambiguous methods.

Would the astrology haters approve of the guidance and inspiration we have gleaned from our high school teachers? From our parents? From our friends? In my opinion, none of them are entirely reliable narrators; they are not to be trusted to deliver 100% accurate and wise counsel on how best to live our lives.

And how about the music of Florence and the Machine, and the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, and the movies of Akira Kurosawa? Is it a big mistake for us to eagerly take on influences from them, allowing their art to infiltrate our subconscious minds and subtly skew and shift our attitudes? Are we deluded?

Or how about the philosophy of the Upanishads or Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel or Susan Sontag? Or the psychological ideas of Carl Jung or Clarissa Pinkola Estes or Erik Erikson? Or the writing of Joan Didion or Pema Chodron or Kurt Vonnegut? Or the social science of Malcolm Gladwell? Or the economic theories of Paul Krugman?

Are they all foolproof, unimpeachable sources of wise guidance that we can unconditionally rely on to steer our personal lives in a righteous direction?

Or should we be ruthlessly careful to draw our guidance and inspiration only from paragons of reason and science?

Should our night tables be stacked with books by Stephen Hawking and Charles Darwin and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and mathematician Terence Tao?

Should we read passages from their teachings every night in the expectation that they will shape us into paragons of reason and science? That they will unfailingly guide us to make good decisions about how to live?

I don't think so. It's fine if those tomes and others like it constitute part of our own personal Bureau of Acceptable Life Information. But we need to draw inspiration and education from a variety of other sources, as well—each of which, like Hawking and Darwin and Kasparov and Tao, is imperfect and incomplete.

It's perfectly reasonable to look to astrology as one of our sources, because astrology is a branch of psychology, as well as an art form—a mode of storytelling.

It's designed to stimulate our imaginations as we ruminate on what it means to be a human being.

It's an evocative mytho-poetic system that helps us identify and transform our subconscious patterns and have fun speculating about the big picture of our destinies.

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P.S. Self-anointed "debunkers" rail against astrologers' predictions, acting as if speculating about the future is a crime against rational thought.

Meanwhile, economists, meteorologists, sportscasters, trend analysts, and political pundits are out there regularly making bad prognostications based on dubious data.

In my view, they spread more delusion and cost people more money than those of us who divine cosmic omens. In the case of errant weather forecasts, they can even be responsible for people in the paths of extreme events losing their lives.

Cliff Mass, a meteorologist and professor of atmospheric sciences, analyzed how badly the National Hurricane Center botched its forecasts for Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Patricia in 2015. Mass presented his critiques as evidence of a systemic pattern of incompetence by official sources.

As for predicting financial futures, public finance journalist Liza Farmer wrote an article with a headline that sums up a general consensus: "Why Economists' Predictions Are Usually Wrong."

Writing in The Guardian, journalist Adam Shaw added another nuance, discussing the fine points of "Why Economic Forecasting Has Always Been a Flawed Science."


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MEDITATION IN THE MIDST OF &*^%$@#@

Some spiritual teachers say you're most likely to succeed at meditation if you sit quietly in a sanctuary. They believe you need to retreat from the world in order to develop compassionate objectivity about life.

The 18th-century Zen Buddhist teacher Hakuin Ekaku had a different view. "Meditation in the midst of activity is a billion times superior to meditation in stillness" was his motto.

PS: My opinion is that there's a high probability that both approaches will work!


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