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Week of September 16th, 2021

You're Smarter and Wiser Than You Realize


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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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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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:

1. Please visit my Virtual Tip Jar at Paypal — Donate via the "Friends and Family" option.

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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

4. I also write daily horoscopes, available as text messages sent to your phone. They're shorter than the weekly 'scopes, but more frequent. You can get these regular bursts of inspiration for 67 cents a day if you sign up for a subscription.

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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.

If, however, you are sufficiently prosperous and feel comfortable about donating money to me, I welcome it. Please know, though: I am TOTALLY FINE if you don't donate.

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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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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.


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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"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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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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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.


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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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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Dawn Robertson wrote a thank-you note to her ego. She said:

Dear Beloved Ego,

I’m sorry the conscious and spiritual communities have given you such a bad rap.

Thank you for caring how others perceive me.

Thank you for letting me believe I can actually make a difference in the world - whether true or not.

Thank you for not letting me hide beyond humility to make myself small.

Thank you for the selfies and self promotion.

Thank you for pushing me to crave validation through my acts of service.

Thank you for allowing me to be a unique human who can be self interested at times.

Thank you for delightfully reminding me I have a story during the good times and the bad.

Thank you for the drive to be “successful” and allowing that marker to be fluid.

Thank you for pushing me to take myself more seriously.

Thank you for helping guide me to make decisions and revealing my fears.

Thank you for questioning the bullshit around me while others may following along sheeply.

Thank you for letting me be human and messy.

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Your future self has time-traveled into the past to enlist the spirits of your ancestors in a plot to unlock your sleeping genius.

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Somehow I have become immune to one of the most popular emotions of the modern world: malefic ecstasy; also known as exultant malaise; also known as blissful pessimism.

So many people get intense pleasure as they think and talk about horrific events. I don't know how I avoided that curse, but I did.

Care to join me?

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I invite you to conspire with me to perpetrate lucid dreams and intimate empathy and revolutionary fucks and plain old everyday miracles that will overthrow the psychopathic misogynist plutocratic militarism that desecrates the ecosphere?"

I invite you to conspire with me to puncture, fracture, and shred the iron curtain between The Ordinary Real World and The Other Real World? Will you collude and connive with me to thwart the genocide of the imagination? Do you promise to plot and scheme with me to defrock and excommunicate and depose the priests of fundamentalist materialism?

I invite you to be my ever-surprising long-lost friend from Foreverland, a prayer rebel helping me to stay apprised of the ever-present origin of the world, an honest trickster skilled at washing water and burning fire. I invite you to be an alphabet eater who takes really good care of the big secret, and a gamemaster of the cosmic lottery that pays off everyone who doesn't win as well as everyone who wins.

I invite you to be a reverent rascal and discerning intellect and mystical activist and emotional genius who inspires us to bestow an inexhaustible supply of rowdy blessings on every living thing we encounter, regardless of whether they bestow rowdy blessings on us?

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I'm all about the gradual, slow-simmering approach to just about everything.

My aspiration is to be reverential and devotional toward the cumulative effects of small minute-by-minute meditations in the midst of "ordinary" life and the manageable day-to-day self-transformations that are hard but not too hard.

When I was young I loved to cultivate senses-reeling ecstatic breakthrough, but now I'm more inclined to commune with the chronic, low-level ecstatic union that thrives on opening to every little experience I encounter. Neither is "better," of course. I'm just talking about what has been right for me in recent years.

I would love to practice tantra 24/7, worshiping and drawing inspiration from each small gift the daily rhythm brings.

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Dare to Be Boring Day is coming up soon. I invite you to celebrate it whenever you feel the urge. We all deserve a break from the oppressive demands to appear smart and to be entertaining.

On Dare to Be Boring Day, it will be socially unacceptable to demonstrate your wit and verve. Long­winded, rambling monologues full of obscure details will be mandatory. The more clichés and buzzwords you use, the better.

Tell worn-out stories your friends have already heard many times. Flesh out your disjointed sentences with awkward silences. Discuss at length your plans for switching laundry detergents, the collection of matchbooks you had as a child, and the time you almost traveled to the Walmart in another town, but didn't.

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I'm wishing you "A Trace of Grace" with the help of Azerbaijani mugam singer Alim Qasimov.

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My ability to become who I aspired to be would have been impossible without the right to legal abortion.

Earlier in my life, my women partners and I had abortions. I am fortunate we weren't forced to bring children into the world that we couldn't properly care for.

Ultimately, my wife and I chose exactly when we did want to bring a new human being into the world—when I had enough money and emotional maturity to do so.

Legal abortion made it possible for me to be a conscious, loving father for the one child I welcomed and helped to raise.

My life is successful, and an important factor contributing to that grace has been legal abortion.


A male reader said that he supports abortion, but found it mind-boggling that so many women are "careless," get pregnant, and need an abortion. Here's how I responded:

Does he not know about all the women who are bullied and manipulated by men into not practicing safe sex?

I've been married to one woman for years, but before that I encountered numerous women who thanked me profusely for offering to use condoms—because their experience had always been that the men they'd had sex with hated to use condoms and tried to coax them to not use them.

Another important point is that taking birth control pills can wreak havoc on a woman's body and even on her psyche. Some women have a torturous relationship with those drugs as a result.

Plus, with birth control pills, YOU HAVE TO TAKE A PILL EVERY SINGLE DAY. Missing one day could make it possible for you to get pregnant.


Condoms are mostly effective, but a lot of men don't like them, and resist using them. It's also true that condoms with spermicides, which are the most effective condoms, can be irritating to the vagina and also make women susceptible to infections.

Women who endure the painful procedure of having an IUD implanted may have heaver periods and more intense menstrual cramps. Their periods may be irregular, and they can bleed between periods.

.A diaphragm is at most 88% effective. A sponge is at most 88% effective, usually less. A cervical cap is between 71-86% effective. Spermicide is 71% effective. A birth control implant is 99% effective but can cost as much as $1,500.

An internal condom is 79% effective, and costs no more than $3. Outer condoms, worn by men, are just 85% effective—hardly a foolproof way to avoid pregnancy.

A birth control patch is 91% effective and has to be replaced weekly; can cost up to $150.

A birth control shot is 94% effective and cost up to $100 every three months.

A birth control vaginal ring is 91% effective and can cost up to $100 every month.

All the above comments are meant to address those people who wonder—without having done any research or talked to actual women—why abortion is even necessary given the fact that "there are so many birth control methods."


I appeal to men who might be reading this to be well-educated about how abortion rights are under attack in the U.S. Be well-educated about why it's so important for women and people with wombs to have the right to decide what happens with their own bodies.

Be well-educated about the various forms of birth control that are available, and about how most of them are imperfect and/or problematic in some way—which is why we need to have abortion to end pregnancies that weren't prevented by birth control.

If you have personally experienced an abortion with a partner, talk about that with your male friends. Also, talk with your male friends about the importance of us being more involved with abortion rights.


Read about the possible long-term side effects of hormonal birth control for women.


Lance Wilburn writes: To be clear: The irony of all of the abortion bills is the complete lack of male inclusion. Women do not magically become pregnant. There is a man attached to every abortion.

Why are men not being included in the Texas law's jail time for abortion? Because this isn't about abortion, it's about men controlling women.

It's an easy topic for white men to flex their power over to remind the womenfolk that they will always have to kneel to them.

If it were actually about abortion, we would be discussing early and continuing sex education, free birth control, healthcare for all, making childcare financially feasible, mandatory parental leave, increasing WIC, hard sentencing for rape, fixing the foster care system, and making adoption more accessible.

This is not about abortion. Don't fool yourself.

— Lance Wilburn


Planned Parenthood is the most helpful and inexpensive source of information about various birth control methods, but that organization is being harassed and defunded. So it's getting harder and harder for women to get access to its information.


Many women tell me that when they hear me talking about my experiences with abortion, it' the first time they have ever heard a man even talk about abortion, let alone advocate for it and describe his experiences with it. That's appalling to me. Men should be fully engaged in every aspect of these issues.


"If a fetus is a person at 6 weeks pregnant, is that when the child support starts? Is that also when you can't deport the mother because she's carrying a US citizen? Can I insure a 6 week fetus and collect if I miscarry? Just figuring if we're going there, we should go all in."

—Carliss Chatman Law Professor, Washington and Lee University


A good way to help is by Donating to abortion funds, organizations that help people pay for and access abortion care when they don’t have the financial means to afford it on their own. Abortion funds use donations to help cover the procedure costs, transportation, and a place to stay before, during, and after. These funds can also be used to cover time off from work, childcare costs, and other financial barriers people who need abortions may experience.

Planned Parenthood is an excellent organization to help.

Causes like Sister Song, Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, National AsianPacific American Women’s Forum, and Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE), to name a few, are doing the vital work of centering on women of color, who are often the most endangered by abortion bans and restrictions to reproductive rights. Links to these groups here.

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