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Week of December 5th, 2019

Give Birth to the Genius Within You!

To a brave person, good and bad luck are like her left and right hand. She uses both.

—philosopher St. Catherine of Siena

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If you do not give birth to the genius within you, it will undermine you. If you do give birth to the genius within you, it will free you.

This is my adaptation of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, which says, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

And yes, I sincerely believe that every one of us has some kind of genius that's unique in the history of the world.

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Spiritual teacher A.H. Almaas believes that a genuinely creative act is always motivated by generosity.

So then here's the question: If that's true, how do you explain all the ego-obsessed "geniuses" who treat everyone like dirt even as they churn out their supposedly brilliant art?

Here's my answer: Those are not authentic geniuses.

Genius is by nature benevolent. Definition of genius: those gifts in yourself that are of maximum use and benefit to others.

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DEAR READERS: Some of you are curious about how I earn a living. You've noticed that I give away my horoscopes for free—and have done so for many years.

You appreciate the fact that my website isn't overrun with ads, that I provide numerous excerpts from my books for free, and that I rarely ask for money in my voluminous posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The fact is that I earn some money by syndicating my horoscopes in newspapers and by selling the books I've published.

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Accept the possibility that there is a limitless range of awareness for which we now have no words; that awareness can expand beyond range of your ego, your self, your familiar identity, beyond everything you have learned, beyond your notions of space and time, beyond the differences which usually separate people from each other and from the world around them.

—Walter Evans-Wentz

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Jungian storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Éstes advises us to take good care of the untamed aspects of our nature. “The wild life must be kept ordered on a regular basis,” she writes.

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THANKS by W. S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you

we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you

in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you

with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster

with nobody listening we are saying thank you

we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

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It’s never too late to have another rebellious adolescence—bigger and better and smarter than the first one.

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Is there anything more dangerous than getting up in the morning and having nothing to worry about, no problems to solve, no friction to heat you up? That state can be a threat to your health, because if untreated it incites an unconscious yearning for any old dumb trouble that might rouse some excitement.

Acquiring problems is a fundamental human need. It's as crucial to your well-being as getting food, air, water, sleep, and love. You define yourself--indeed, you make yourself--through the riddles you attract and solve. The most creative people on the planet are those who frame the biggest, hardest questions and then gather the resources necessary to find the answers.

Conventional wisdom implies that the best problems are those that place you under duress. There's supposedly no gain without pain. Stress is allegedly an incomparable spur for calling on resources that have been previously unavailable or dormant. Nietzsche's aphorism, “That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger,” has achieved the status of an ultimate truth.

I half-agree. But it's clear that stress also accompanies many mediocre problems that have little power to make us smarter. Pain frequently generates no gain. We're all prone to become habituated, even addicted, to nagging vexations that go on and on without rousing any of our sleeping genius.

There is, furthermore, another class of difficulty--let's call it the delightful dilemma--that neither feeds on angst nor generates it. On the contrary, it's fun and invigorating, and usually blooms when you're feeling a profound sense of being at home in the world. The problem of writing my book is a good example. I've had a good time handling the perplexing challenges with which it has confronted me.

Imagine a life in which at least half of your quandaries match this profile. Act as if you're most likely to attract useful problems when joy is your predominant state of mind. Consider the possibility that being in unsettling circumstances may shrink your capacity to dream up the riddles you need most; that maybe it's hard to ask the best questions when you're preoccupied fighting rearguard battles against boring or demeaning annoyances that have plagued you for many moons.

Prediction: As an aspiring lover of pronoia, you will have a growing knack for gravitating toward wilder, wetter, more interesting problems. More and more, you will be drawn to the kind of gain that doesn't require pain. You'll be so alive and awake that you'll cheerfully push yourself out of your comfort zone in the direction of your personal frontier well before you're forced to do so by divine kicks in the ass.

The above is excerpted from my book *Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Consiring to Shower You with Blessings*. Available here:

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How do we summon the right blend of practical love and constructive

How do we refrain from hating other people even as we fight fiercely
against the hatred and danger they have helped unleash?

How do we cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we neutralize the bigoted, autocratic poisons that are on the loose?

How can we be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of

How can we stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the mass
hallucinations that are metastasizing?

In the face of the danger, how do we remain intensely dedicated to
building beauty and truth and justice and love even as we keep our
imaginations wild and hungry and free?

Can our struggle also be a form of play?

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I celebrate the mantra, "I don't know." It's a source of power, a declaration of independence from the pressure to have an opinion about every single subject.

It's fun to say. "I don't know."

I love to let go of the drive to have it all figured out: "I don't know."

I exult in proclaiming the only truth I can be totally sure of: "I don't know."

I empty my mind and lift my heart: "I don't know."

I use it as a battle cry, a joyous affirmation of my oneness with the Great Mystery: "I don't know."

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MOTHER'S PRAYER by Rebecca Solnit

Our mother who art underfoot,
hallowed be thy names.
Thy seasons come, thy will be done,
within us as around us.

Thank you for our daily bread, our water, our air,
and our lives and so much beauty.
Lead us not into selfish craving and the destructions
that are the hungers of the glutted,
but deliver us from wanton consumption
of thy vast but finite bounty.

For thine is the only sphere of life we know,
and the power and the glory, forever and ever.


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Acting generously helps many of us feel increasingly purposeful and coherent. Could we think up and fashion a worldwide culture based on practicing extreme altruism at every opportunity?

—William Kittredge

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In beauty you walk

In beauty you walk
In beauty you walk

Your eyes see beauty
Your thoughts find beauty
Your feelings rouse beauty
Your words name beauty

With beauty above you, you walk
With beauty below you, you walk
With beauty behind you and before you, you walk
With beauty all around you, you walk

Through the returning seasons, you walk in beauty
On the trail blessed with pollen, you walk in beauty
With mist falling and moon rising, you walk in beauty

It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty

—Diné prayer

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"If I had my life to live over," said Nadine Stair at age 85, "I would perhaps have more actual problems, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones."

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For those who practice the spiritual system
known as Western Hermetic Magick,
a crucial goal is to make conscious and intimate connection
with one's Holy Guardian Angel.

This higher intelligence
embodies the magician's essential
divine nature and True Will;
is the repository of the soul's code;
energizes the master plan
of the magician's best possible destiny.

To be in ongoing communion
with the Holy Guardian Angel
doesn't guarantee a faultless and easy life . . .

but does make possible
a thorough expression
of those unique personal talents and powers
that are most interesting to the magician
and most useful to the people
whose lives he or she touches.

(The Holy Guardian Angel is also the Inner Teacher.)

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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 17 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.

Check out Ro's website.

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EXPERIMENT: Review in loving detail the history of your life. Remember how and why you came to be where you are now.

Extra Credit: Figure out a way to feel gratitude for it all.

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“Empathy is the most radical of human emotions,” wrote activist Gloria Steinem.

What did she mean by “radical”? The word implies audacity, fierceness, and courage. It connotes a revolt against the status quo, a transcendence of what’s normal and habitual.

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Torrential Pronoia Therapy. Experiments and exercises in becoming a blasphemously reverent, lustfully compassionate, eternally changing Master of Transgressive Beauty.

1. Take inventory of the extent to which your "No" reflex dominates your life. Notice for 24 hours (even in your dreams) how often you say or think:
"That's not right."
"I don't like them."
"I don't agree with that."
"They don't like me."
"That should be different from what it is."
Then retrain yourself to say "YES" at least 51 percent of the time. Start the transformation by saying "YES" aloud 22 times right now.


2. In response to our culture's ever-rising levels of noise and frenzy, rites of purification have become more popular. Many people now recognize the value of taking periodic retreats. Withdrawing from their usual compulsions, they go on fasts, avoid mass media, practice celibacy, or even abstain from speaking. While we applaud cleansing ceremonies like this, we recommend balancing them with periodic outbreaks of an equal and opposite custom: the Bliss Blitz.

During this celebration, you tune out the numbing banality of the daily grind. But instead of shrinking into asceticism, you indulge in uninhibited explorations of joy, release, and expansion. Turning away from the mildly stimulating distractions you seek out when you're bored or worried, you become inexhaustibly resourceful as you search for unsurpassable sources of cathartic pleasure. Try it for a day or a week: the Bliss Blitz.


3. "You can't wait for inspiration," proclaimed writer Jack London. "You have to go after it with a club." That sounds too violent to me, though I agree in principle that aggressiveness is the best policy in one's relationship with inspiration.
Try this: Don't wait for inspiration. Go after it with a butterfly net, lasso, sweet treats, fishing rod, court orders, beguiling smells, and sincere flattery.


4. Have you ever seen the game called "Playing the Dozens"? Participants compete in the exercise of hurling witty insults at each other. Here are some examples: "You're so dumb, if you spoke your mind you'd be speechless." "Your mother is so old, she was a waitress at the Last Supper." "You're so ugly, you couldn't get laid if you were a brick."

I invite you to rebel against any impulse in you that resonates with the spirit of "Playing the Dozens." Instead, try a new game, "Paying the Tributes." Choose worthy targets and ransack your imagination to come up with smart, true, and amusing praise about them.

The best stuff will be specific to the person you're addressing, not generic, but here are some prototypes: "You're so far-seeing, you can probably catch a glimpse of the back of your own head." "You're so ingenious, you could use your nightmares to get rich and famous." "Your mastery of pronoia is so artful, you could convince me to love my worst enemy."


5. Salvador Dalí once staged a party in which guests were told to come disguised as characters from their nightmares. Do the reverse. Throw a bash in which everyone is invited to arrive dressed as a character from the most glorious dream they remember.


6. When many people talk about their childhoods, they emphasize the alienating, traumatic experiences they had, and fail to report the good times. This seems dishonest—a testament to the popularity of cynicism rather than a reflection of objective truth.

I don't mean to downplay the way your early encounters with pain demoralized your spirit. But as you reconnoiter the promise of pronoia, it's crucial for you to extol the gifts you were given in your early years: all the helpful encounters, kind teachings, and simple acts of grace that helped you bloom.


7. What is the holiest river in the world? Some might say the Ganges in India. Others would propose the Jordan River or the River Nile. But I say the holiest river is the one that's closest to where you are right now.

Go to that river and commune with it. Throw a small treasure into it as an offering. Next, find a holy sidewalk to walk on, praise the holiness in a bus driver, kiss a holy tree, and shop at a holy store.


8. Go to the ugliest or most forlorn place you know -- a drugstore parking lot, the front porch of a crack house, a toxic waste dump, or the place that symbolizes your secret shame -- and build a shrine devoted to beauty, truth, and love.

Here are some suggestions about what to put in your shrine: a silk scarf; a smooth rock on which you've inscribed a haiku or joke with a felt-tip pen; coconut cookies or ginger candy; pumpkin seeds and an origami crane; a green kite shaped like a dragon; a music CD you love; a photo of your hero; a votive candle carved with your word of power; a rubber ducky; a bouquet of fresh beets; a print of Van Gogh's Starry Night.


9. Become a rapturist, which is the opposite of a terrorist: Conspire to unleash blessings on unsuspecting recipients, causing them to feel good.

Before bringing your work as a rapturist to strangers, practice with two close companions. Offer them each a gift that fires up their ambitions. It should not be a practical necessity or consumer fetish, but rather a provocative tool or toy. Give them an imaginative boon they've been hesitant to ask for, a beautiful thing that expands their self-image, a surprising intervention that says, "I love the way you move me."


The above is excerpted from my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia:

You can buy the book at Amazon and Powells.

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The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.

—Rebecca Solnit

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