Week of May 28th, 2020

Renew Your Love of Being Alive

In some ways, our current world situation seems to be not at all conducive for any of us to be cultivating and nurturing our ambitions. In some ways, now doesn't feel like the right time for us to be naming exactly what it is that we want from life and pushing forward with plans to experience exactly what it is we want out of life.

Because of the global pandemic, we are in an extended period of deep uncertainty. We are on our way to a new way of being and living, but no one knows what it will be.

So how can we realistically cultivate and nurture our ambitions in a time like this?

How can we even know what will be possible for us to achieve in the coming months and years?

How can we anticipate which of our personal goals will even make sense as the unknown transformations unfold?

These are all valid questions. They are essential to ponder.

At the same time, I propose that it's a favorable time for you to feed your desires to be the best you can be—at whatever tasks and roles you might end up carrying out in the coming months and years.

I propose that it's a favorable time for you to renew your love of being alive, and to fuel your yearnings to give back to life in return for all that life has given to you.

I propose that it's a favorable time for you to identify the unique talents and gifts you have to offer the world, and to re-consecrate your commitment to using those talents and gifts to create a beautiful life for yourself and find specific ways to offer them to the world.


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Here's a link to my free weekly email newsletter, featuring the Free Will Astrology horoscopes, plus a bunch of other stuff. It arrives every Tuesday morning.

Read past issues of the newsletter.

Sign up here for your free subscription.


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THE FREEDOM TO BE RESPONSIBLE AND COMPASSIONATE

Dear Rob: I follow your writing, and like a lot of it. But you seem to have gone off the rails and jumped the shark in your support of the dumb experts who advocate the lockdowns as a way to allegedly foil the spread of the coronavirus. I thought you supported freedom. I thought your concept of "pronoia" was about liberating us from control and manipulation. Why do you support the government telling us what to do? —Confused in Tampa

Dear Confused: My approach to freedom derives its inspiration from the freedom to love and care for and protect and help other people and all the creatures of the earth. The lockdowns serve the cause of cherishing life—thereby honoring and celebrating my freedom.

I don't mean to minimize the challenges of the lockdowns. Many of us are separated from loved ones and have lost our jobs or had our incomes reduced. Many of us feel alone and have faced dilemmas in our efforts to remedy non-COVID-19 health concerns.

But those are different issues from the minor inconvenience of having to wear protective masks in public and being careful to keep sufficient distance between ourselves and others. They're different from the very small problems of not being able to gather in groups at parks, salons, and tattoo parlors.

Those modest constraints on our freedom enable us to express a far-more robust kind of freedom, which is the freedom to take care of each other, to ensure we do no harm.


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DEAR READERS:

You've been so extraordinarily kind to me lately! Thank you for your generous donations and beautiful notes!

Here's the back story: In my last newsletter, I told you about how the alternative weekly newspapers have been suffering financially from the pandemic. I described how I've been allowing them to publish my horoscopes for free, hoping that will help them survive.

This means, of course, that none of those newspapers have been paying me, as they have done for so many years.

In response, many of you readers stepped forward to send me actual money. I've been amazed at your largesse! So many of you have also written me messages to express how much you love my work. I've been touched by the deep feelings you've conveyed.

At the risk of asking too much, I will remind you of the ways you can contribute to me:

1. Visit my Gift Page — and contribute to me now and then via the "Friends and Family" option.

2. Commit to offering me a regular donation through my Patreon page.

3. Send checks or cash to me at P.O. Box 4400, San Rafael, CA 94913.

4. Buy my Expanded Audio Horoscopes and/or Sunbursts, my Daily Text Message Horoscopes

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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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WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT EACH OTHER?

we will not reveal
our conclusions until
the End of Times, which has
been scheduled repeatedly

and then canceled because
no one can imagine
what we would do
without each other

without these comings and
goings and the little gasp
of recognition that is all
we are allowed to leave behind

—excerpted from Eleanor Lerman's poem, "The Marfa Lights," from her book Strange Life


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CONSPIRACIES

Yes, there are actual conspiracies: Bad people do indeed work in coordinated ways behind the scenes to carry out nefarious plans.

But those conspiracies are uncovered by trained journaiists with strong research skills and a highly honed ability to track down objective evidence — not sloppy thinkers who can't tell the difference between their fantasies and real data.

and more here


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For those who want to learn about real conspiracies, they might stick to those that are researched and documented by very smart people who gather actual evidence. One such person is Naomi Klein.

Her book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" documents a phenomenon that might be described as a "conspiracy" — how "free market" believers have exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement their economic policies.


Good link to buy Naomi Klein's book.


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YOUR NAMES

Each of us has a name
given by God
and given by our parents

Each of us has a name
given by our stature and our smile
and given by what we wear

Each of us has a name
given by the mountains
and given by our walls

Each of us has a name
given by the stars
and given by our neighbors

Each of us has a name
given by our sins
and given by our longing

Each of us has a name
given by our enemies
and given by our love

Each of us has a name
given by our celebrations
and given by our work

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by
our death.

—Israeli poet Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky

Translated from the Hebrew by Marcia Lee Falk


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FAITH IN THE IMAGINATION

Some people put their faith in religion or science or political ideologies. English novelist J.G. Ballard placed his faith elsewhere: in the imagination.

"I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world," he wrote, "to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen."

How do you use the power of imagination to remake the world?


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WILD KINDNESS

By practicing kindness all over with everyone you will soon come into the holy trance, definite distinctions of personalities will become what they really mysteriously are, our common and eternal blissstuff, the pureness of everything forever, the great bright essence of mind, even and one thing everywhere the holy eternal milky love, the white light everywhere everything, emptybliss, svaha, shining, ready, and awake, the compassion in the sound of silence, the swarming myriad trillionaire you are.

—Jack Kerouac


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IT'S NOT JUST THE DEATH; IT'S THE DECIMATION

Virologist Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine says: "Many people think COVID-19 kills 1% of patients, and the rest get away with some flulike symptoms.

"But the story gets more complicated. Many people will be left with chronic kidney and heart problems. Even their neural system is disrupted. There will be hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, possibly more, who will need treatments such as renal dialysis for the rest of their lives.

"The more we learn about the coronavirus, the more questions arise. We are learning while we are sailing. That’s why I get so annoyed by the many commentators on the sidelines who, without much insight, criticize the scientists and policymakers trying hard to get the epidemic under control."


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ANIMAL SMARTS

I'm always striving to upgrade my ability to commune with non-human intelligences.

See the fantastic photos.


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We are in a collective Dark Night of the Soul, where all the stories are scrambled into one messy and incomprehensible Zen Riddle. One set of useful responses:

* Don’t go numb

* Be willing to dwell with poise and grace amidst the fear and uncertainty

* Don’t indulge in primitive, runaway thinking that concocts crazy stories

* Stay anchored in the quizzical here and now


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REAL HOPE, NOT FAKE HOPE

Rebecca Solnit writes: "I use the term hope because it navigates a way forward between the false certainties of optimism and of pessimism, and the complacency or passivity that goes with both.

"Optimism assumes that all will go well without our effort; pessimism assumes it’s all irredeemable; both let us stay home and do nothing.

"Hope for me has meant a sense that the future is unpredictable, and that we don’t actually know what will happen, but know we may be able write it ourselves.

"Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, an understanding that the future is not yet written. It’s informed, astute open-mindedness about what can happen and what role we may play in it.

"Hope looks forward, but it draws its energies from the past, from knowing histories, including our victories, and their complexities and imperfections.

"It means not being the perfect that is the enemy of the good, not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, not assuming you know what will happen when the future is unwritten, and part of what happens is up to us."

Read Rebecca Solnit's essay


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GOOD QUESTIONS FOR YOU

• Which aspects of your soulful beauty are potentially of greatest service to the world?

• How can you express your uniqueness in ways that activate your most profound generosity?

• What could you personally do to make the world a better place for our descendants?

• What are the gifts and blessings that constitute your finest legacy?

• Can you foresee yourself becoming completely committed to performing the magic that no one else can do?


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OPTIMISM
by Jane Hirshfield

More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape,
but the sinuous tenacity of a tree:
finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose
turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs --
all this resinous, unretractable earth.


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WANT TO GET YOUR PERSONAL ASTROLOGICAL CHART READ?

If you want your personal chart done, I recommend a colleague whose approach to reading astrology charts closely matches my own. She's my wife, RO LOUGHRAN. Her website is here.

Ro utilizes a blend of well-trained intuition, emotional warmth, and technical proficiency in horoscope interpretation. She is skilled at exploring the mysteries of your life's purpose and nurturing your connection with your own inner wisdom.

In addition to over 30 years of astrological experience, Ro has been a licensed psychotherapist for 20 years. She integrates psychological insight with astrology's cosmological perspective.

Ro is based in California, but can do phone consultations and otherwise work with you regardless of geographic boundaries.


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HOW DO WE BECOME SKILLED THINKERS?

Williams James said, "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."

I would add that a great many people think they are thinking when they are merely trying to rationalize their unconsciously generated and habitual feelings.

As for myself, I'm still learning how to think. Fortunately for me, I do keep improving.

I have steadily become more objective. I'm a better researcher. I'm more precise in my use of language, a better evaluator of what's factual and what's opinion-driven, more humble about my ability to grasp what's true, and more committed to seeing things as they are rather than as I would like them to be or hallucinate them to be.

I'm more truly skeptical—not faux skeptical as so many dogmatically skeptical "skeptics" are.

I'm better at formulating useful questions. I know that asking good questions is preferable to clinging to easy, pat, simplistic answers.

I've been able to critique rampant scientism, that distortion of true science, even as I make rigorous use of the scientific method, with its beautiful, clean, elegant approach to assessing the world.

My effort to become a better thinker has been hard work. None of it would have happened if I hadn't been deeply committed to becoming a better practitioner of the art of thinking.

And I still have a long way to go before I become the THINKER I could be.

What about you? How are you doing in your relationship with the art of thinking clearly?

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One person told me, reacting to my thoughts above, that she aspires to move beyond thought—to not stay in the duality of right/wrong, true/false, good/bad, which in her opinion, thinking engenders.

Here's what I said in response: In my view, it's an excellent and healthy strategy to regularly move beyond thought. We need that refreshment! But it's also crucial to have a strong thinking function, which keeps my discernment strong.

For me, using the thinking function does the opposite of shunting me into dualism. It gives me a sense of the complicated nuance of everything in the world, and makes me less likely to try to pigeonhole phenomena into simplistic categories.


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CITIZEN OF DARK TIMES
by Kim Stafford

Agenda in a time of fear: Be not afraid.
When things go wrong, do right.

Set out by the half-light of the seeker.
For the well-lit problem begins to heal.

Learn tropism toward the difficult.
We have not arrived to explain, but to sing.

Young idealism ripens into an ethical life.
Prune back regret to let faith grow.

When you hit rock bottom, dig farther down.
Grief is the seed of singing, shame the seed of song.

Keep seeing what you are not saying.
Plunder your reticence.

Songbird guards a twig,
its only weapon a song.


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INTERNATIONAL CRYING WEEK

This is International Crying Week. You have a poetic license to sob, mourn, lament, blubber, and weep because of deep sadness or unreasonable joy or cathartic epiphanies or compassion for the suffering of others or visions of the interconnectedness of all life.

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My friend Marika regards her crying spells as surrogate orgasms. They bring a surging release of pent-up emotions, and leave her deeply relaxed and in love with life.

Another friend, Ariane, weeps now and then out of self-pity, but more often her sobs are triggered by overwhelming beauty, like the sight of a dragonfly alighting beside her as she gazes on Mt. Tamalpais at dusk.

Myself, I experience my tears as a well-earned triumph, whether they're driven by loss or fullness; they're the sign of the inner work I've done to feel things deeply.

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In his book *Crying: the Natural and Cultural History of Tears*, Tom Lutz asserts that people don't cry as much as they used to. The English of the Victorian era, supposedly renowned for their stuffy behavior, put us to shame with their abundant outpouring of tears.

So what's our excuse? There's as much, if not more, to be mournful about nowadays; and we certainly don't suffer from a lack of events to spur our cathartic joy and empathy.

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Would you like to volunteer to do something about the modern weeping deficit? Because of our current Global Healing Crisis, you now have rich opportunities to unleash extra tears.

Experiment: Walk into the hills or woods and find a large rock jutting up out of the earth in a place that makes you feel at home. Sit down on or next to that rock and let go of the tightly wound emotions you've been holding onto. Sob or sigh until you achieve a spiritual release that will free your mind and heart to feel uninhibited compassion for our global predicament.

Ever hereafter you will call this the Crying Rock, and you will go there whenever you need the kind of release that only a beloved natural power spot can facilitate.

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Rambunctious singer Tom Waits is not known for his scientific research, but a few years ago he made a valuable contribution in the quest to measure sadness.

Holding a spoon to his cheek during an especially blue period of his life, he found that it takes 121 teardrops to fill a teaspoon.

Building on his work, I've discovered that crying for joy causes a spoon to overflow after only 98 tears, suggesting that they're bigger.

I invite you to do further studies on this subject. Tap into watery breakthroughs of several varieties, ranging from the relatively poignant to the outrageously sublime.

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In Janet Fitch's novel *White Oleander*, a character makes a list of "twenty-seven names for tears," including "Heartdew. Griefhoney. Sadwater. Die tränen. Eau de douleur. Los rios del corazón."

(The last three can be translated as "The Tears," "Water of Pain," and "The Rivers of the Heart.")

I invite you to emulate this playfully extravagant approach to the art of crying. Now is an excellent time to celebrate and honor your sadness, as well as all the other rich emotions that provoke tears. You'll be wise to feel profound gratitude for your capacity to feel so deeply.

For best results, go in search of experiences and insights that will unleash the full cathartic power of weeping. Act as if empathy is a superpower.


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BYPASSING BYPASSING

If your path to so-called spiritual "enlightenment" or "growth" or "evolution" doesn't lead you to have more of a capacity to witness and acknowledge the suffering of your fellow humans, then it's not enlightenment, growth or evolution; it's "BYPASS."

—Andrew Strowbridge


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Dear Readers:

For years, my column "Free Will Astrology" has been published in alternative newsweeklies all over North America.

From City Pages in Minneapolis to The Stranger in Seattle to Creative Loafing in Tampa to Now in Toronto—and more than 100 other newspapers—these vibrant sources of local journalism have paid me actual money to print my horoscopes.

I've been very lucky! Their support of my work has been instrumental in me being able to become the person I want to be.

But I'm sad to report that our Global Healing Crisis has financially devastated the alternative newsweeklies. They've lost much of their ad revenue from restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, and cultural institutions. Some papers have shut down. Others are now publishing online only, no longer in hard copy. Virtually all have furloughed workers.

I decided early in the pandemic that I wanted to help out the newspapers that have helped me thrive. I told them all that they could publish "Free Will Astrology" for free during the months of April and May.

While I'm glad I made that move, it means my income has been drastically reduced. Is this a permanent situation? I don't know. The hope is that I will begin getting paid again by July, but if the newsweeklies' predicament remains intense, I will extend my free offer to them.

It's also possible that the crisis won't abate for months, and that some newspapers will close forever. Even in a best-case scenario, wherein most of them re-open, I'll charge them reduced rates.


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WHY IS EVERYTHING SO GORGEOUS?

why is everything
so gorgeous
this bogus dream
this lunacy why?

—Zen monk and poet Ikkyū


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I LEFT MY NUMBER EVERYWHERE

Call me. I have left my number
everywhere. I want to know
how this story turns out

—Eleanor Lerman


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