Rob Brezsny's Astrology Newsletter
February 24, 2021
A person must break with the illusion that her life has already been written and her path already determined.
Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.
—Dr. Mae C. Jemison
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LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT ASTROLOGY REALLY IS
The inexplicable thing about "scientists" who deride astrology as being a "pseudo-science" is that they haven't engaged in the most fundamental principle of science, which is to actually investigate the subject they aspire to understand.
If these faux scientists took the trouble to research the subject, they would know that Western astrology's best practitioners don't claim that astrology is a science—which means that it can't be a pseudo-science!
The lyrical and practical truth is that astrology is a blend of psychology, story-telling, and mythology. In the words of Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, astrology "is the sum of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity."
In my words, astrology is a symbol system that when used with integrity, engenders soulful approaches for deepening our connection to life's great mysteries—not predictions of literal events.
Psychologist James Hillman spoke of the joyous work of learning our soul's code—the blueprint of our destiny. That's what astrology does best. To imagine that this can be done in a scientific way is irrelevant and delusional.
Astrology is meant to open our minds to the mythic patterns that underlie the surface-level interpretations of what we're all about. It's not meant to compete with scientists' rational, logical analyses of how the world works.
And of course we need both: the mytho-poetic and the logically analytical. I can't imagine any truly intelligent person who would think that one or the other is better or more important.
To be consistent, the "scientists" who say that astrology is a pseudo-science should also say that psychologist Carl Jung, mythologist Joseph Campbell, and storyteller Ursula K Le Guin were practicing pseudo-science.
It's usually not productive to engage in a conversation with people who long ago decided that astrology is superstitious nonsense. Their minds are as irrevocably and self-satisfyingly closed as an evangelical Christian who already knows forever that there's no such thing as human-caused climate change.
So I usually expect that any rational ideas I serve up to self-styled skeptics about astrology will have the same impact as if I were explaining the nuances of abortion rights at a convention of political conservatives.
But here's a start: Many people who dismiss astrology with kneejerk derision have done no actual research on the subject! They don't know that four of history's greatest astronomers were practicing astrologers: Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe, and Pierre Gassendi.
Most of the deriders haven't read smart astrological philosophers like Dane Rudhyar and Alice O. Howell and Steven Arroyo and Liz Greene and Richard Tarnas. They aren't aware that pioneering psychologist Carl Jung cast horoscopes and used astrology extensively.
The deriders don't know that astronomer Martha Maiden, who was a program executive at NASA for years and achieved such prominence that she now has an award named after her (tinyurl.com/y4yz9ypn), is an excellent astrologer. (I know because I went to Duke University with her and we studied astrology together.)
The closest approach that fraudulent "skeptics" usually make to exploring the ancient art of astrology is to glance at a newspaper or internet horoscope column. To match their carelessness, I might make a drive-by of a strip mall and declare that the profession of architecture is shallow and debased.
THAT'S NOT HOW TO DO SCIENCE! To do science you don't casually gather anecdotal evidence from your random personal experiences. You make a point to investigate a subject with rigor and vigor, going to primary sources.
Yes, there are many mediocre and incompetent and irresponsible astrologers out there—just as there are mediocre and incompetent and irresponsible practitioners in every field of human endeavor.
Here's Brezsny's Pseudo-Scientific Maxim: In any occupation, 70% of the practitioners are average to mediocre, 15% are bad, and 15% are excellent.
The lazy scientists who ignorantly criticize astrology focus on the worst of the astrologers.
If I chose to focus on the work of bad scientists, my opinion of science would be very low. Below, in the last section before "Pronoiac Resources," I provide a few pieces of evidence about bad science.
Many of the lazy "scientists" don't even know that constellations have no bearing or place in Western astrology.
Many don't know, therefore, that their argument about the "signs being wrong" and there being a 13th sign, Ophiuchus, are not based on even a shred of truth about what astrology is.
Read more about this subject here: tinyurl.com/5b76g22g
Science can play a valuable role in checking the excesses of astrologers and other magical thinkers. For example, I've been grateful for those times when patient astronomers have refuted the irresponsible prophets who claim that some upcoming planetary configuration will somehow detonate natural disasters on Earth.
On the other hand, many scientists critique astrology in equally careless ways, making groundless assertions.
I prefer to take a middle path between the two extremes, borrowing from the best of both the rational and mystical approach and avoiding the worst.
The ill-informed "skeptics" often say that astrologers think the stars and planets emit invisible beams that affect people's lives.
But in his book Cosmos and Psyche, brilliant astrologer Richard Tarnas (who is also a renowned cultural historian) says the planets don't emit invisible forces that shape our destinies as if we were puppets. Rather, they are symbols of the unfolding evolutionary pattern. Just as clocks tell time but don't create it, the heavenly bodies show us the big picture but don't cause it.
Quoting Greek philosopher Plotinus, Tarnas writes, "The stars are like letters that inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky. Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together."
Which prompts me to say: So it's not just the distant globes whose movements and relationships serve as divinatory clues.
If you're sufficiently attuned to the gestalt of creation and pay close enough attention to its unfolding details, you can read the current mood of the universe in the arrangement of red onions in the grocery store bin or the fluttering of sunlight and shadow on the mimosa tree or the scatter of soap suds in your sink after you've finished washing the dishes.
Can you do it? Discern the signature of creation at this or any other perfect moment? Peer into the secret heart of the collective unconscious? Guess what the Goddess is thinking?
Hint: You will have to switch on a dormant capacity, transforming your imagination from a mere fantasy-generator into an organ of perception.
According to the Western Hermetic tradition, which is my spiritual path, there are aspects of each planet within us. So for example, Mars, the heavenly body in the sky way out there, is the visible manifestation of an archetype that permeates the Great Everywhereness, including human beings.
The rocky planet Mars doesn't beam out vibes that manipulate our behavior. But we can analyze the movements of the planet Mars to speculate on how the Mars archetype is at work at any particular time and in any particular person.
A fellow astrologer asked me why I even care about what science thinks about astrology. Here's what I said:
Because I love science and its methodology and because a lot of people who pay attention to what I write also love science and its methodology. I want to talk to them about the excesses and distortions of science, in the hope that this will help in some small way to shore up the integrity of science and its capacity to accept other modes of intelligence and knowing as valid.
In the US, science is under threat from fascist and paranoid and delusional views of the world. We need science to be as strong and vital as possible in the face of that danger.
The scientific method is a fantastic way of learning about the world, and I eagerly use it daily. But it's not the only valid way to learn about the world. To dismiss other ways of learning about the world as "pseudo-scientific" is reductionist and fundamentalist.
Astrology doesn't use—can't use—the scientific method. The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century.
If you'd like to read more of my thoughts about astrology, check out this interview with me: tinyurl.com/y7qbxmbm
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Four books about Carl Jung's writings on astrology:
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If I chose to focus on the work of bad scientists, my opinion of science would be very low. (It's not low, because I know about a lot of great, useful science and scientists.)
Below, I provide just a few pieces of evidence about bad science. There's much more evidence, but I'll name only a few to make my point.
Scientific fraud is rife.
Trials and errors: Why science is failing us.
A lot of scientists are busted for making up data and fudging statistics. Medicine, too, has seen a rash of scientific foul play.
Is medical science built on shaky foundations? More than half of biomedical findings cannot be reproduced.
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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:
Volunteers in Texas Saved Thousands Of Sea Turtles From The Shocking Cold Weather.
Honoring The Black Astrophysicist at NASA Whose Innovative Space Telescope is Still on the Moon (1939-2020).
Paris is Turning Its Dark Underground Parking Lots into Organic Mushrooms Farms.
For a lot more pronoiac resources and ideas, read my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings
Available at Barnes & Noble: tinyurl.com/PronoiaBN
Available at Amazon: bit.ly/Pronoia
A free preview of the book is available here: tinyurl.com/PronoiaPreview
Please tell me your own nominations for PRONOIA RESOURCES: Truthrooster@gmail.com.
FREE WILL ASTROLOGY
Week beginning February 25
Copyright 2021 by Rob Brezsny
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20):
Piscean author Anais Nin was a maestro of metamorphosis, a virtuoso of variation, an adept at alteration. She regarded her ceaseless evolution as a privilege and luxury, not an oppressive inconvenience. "I take pleasure in my transformations," she wrote. "I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me." Her approach is a healthy model for most of you Pisceans—and will be especially worth adopting in the coming weeks. I invite you to be a Change Specialist whose nickname is Flux Mojo.
ARIES (March 21-April 19):
I invite you to think about one or two types of physical discomforts and symptoms that your body seems most susceptible to. Next I encourage you to meditate on the possibility that there are specific moods or feelings associated with those discomforts and symptoms—perhaps either caused by them or the cause of them. The next step is to formulate an intention to monitor any interactions that might transpire between the bodily states and emotional states. Then make a plan for how you will address them both with your own healing power whenever they visit you in the future.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20):
Poet Billy Collins describes "standing on the edge of a lake on a moonlit night and the light of the moon is always pointing straight at you." I have high hopes that your entire life will be like that in the coming weeks: that you'll feel as if the world is alive with special messages just for you; that every situation you're in will feel like you belong there; that every intuition welling up from your subconscious mind into your conscious awareness will be specifically what you need at the moment it arrives.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
You're entering a potentially heroic phase of your astrological cycle. The coming weeks will be a time when you'll hopefully be motivated to raise your integrity and impeccability to record levels. To inspire you, I've grabbed a few affirmations from a moral code reputed to be written by a 14th-century Samurai warrior. Try saying them, and see if they rouse you to make your good character even better. 1. "I have no divine power; I make honesty my divine power." 2. "I have no miracles; I make right action my miracle." 3. "I have no enemy; I make carelessness my enemy." 4. "I have no designs; I make 'seizing opportunity' my design." 5. "I have no magic secrets; I make character my magic secret." 6. "I have no armor; I make benevolence and righteousness my armor."
CANCER (June 21-July 22):
"The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle," writes Cancerian author and Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. I disagree with him. There are many other modes of awareness that can be useful as we navigate our labyrinthine path through this crazy world. Regarding each minute as an opportunity to learn something new, for instance: That's an excellent way to live. Or, for another example, treating each minute as another chance to creatively express our love. But I do acknowledge that Kornfield's approach is sublime and appealing. And I think it will be especially apropos for you during the coming weeks.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
The coming weeks will be a poignant and healing time for you to remember the people in your life who have died—as well as ancestors whom you never met or didn't know well. They have clues to offer you, rich feelings to nourish you with, course corrections to suggest. Get in touch with them through your dreams, meditations, and reminiscences. Now read this inspiration from poet Rainer Maria Rilke: "They, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time." (Translation from the German by Stephen Mitchell.)
MAYBE JOY AND BLISS ARE CATALYTIC SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
Assume that pleasure and happiness doesn't interfere with your spiritual growth, but may in fact stimulate it.
Proceed on the hypothesis that cultivating delight and wonder might make you a more ethical and compassionate person.
Imagine that feeling good has something important to teach you every day.
For inspiration in practicing this approach, tune in to your EXPANDED AUDIO HOROSCOPES. They're four-to-five-minute meditations on the current state of your destiny.
To listen to your Expanded Audio Horoscope online, go to RealAstrology.com
Register and/or log in through the main page.
The cost is $6 per sign online. (Discounts are available for bulk purchases.)
You can also listen over the phone by calling 1-877-873-4888. The cost is $1.99 per minute. Each forecast is 4-5 minutes long.
"I always feel like I know myself better after listening to your audio 'scopes."
—June Roseville, Austin, TX
"Your audio horoscopes calm me down when I'm too manic and pep me up when I'm down."
—Arthur Trachten, Cleveland, OH
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
I'm fond of 18th-century Virgo painter Quentin de La Tour. Why? 1. He specialized in creating portraits that brought out his subjects' charm and intelligence. 2. As he grew wealthier, he became a philanthropist who specialized in helping poor women and artists with disabilities. 3. While most painters of his era did self-portraits that were solemn, even ponderous, de La Tour's self-portraits showed him smiling and good-humored. 4. Later in his life, when being entirely reasonable was no longer a top priority, de La Tour enjoyed conversing with trees. In accordance with the astrological omens, I propose that we make him your patron saint for now. I hope you'll be inspired to tap into your inner Quentin de la Tour.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with your overall health, Libra—in fact, I expect it's probably quite adequate—but from an astrological point of view, now is the right time to schedule an appointment for a consultation with your favorite healer, even if just by Zoom. In addition, I urge you to consult a soul doctor for a complete metaphysical check-up. Chances are that your mental health is in fair shape, too. But right now it's not enough for your body and soul to be merely adequate; they need to receive intense doses of well-wrought love and nurturing. So I urge you to ask for omens and signs and dreams about what precisely you can do to treat yourself with exquisite care.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):
"Love commands a vast army of moods," writes author Diane Ackerman. "Frantic and serene, vigilant and calm, wrung-out and fortified, explosive and sedate." This fact of life will be prominently featured in your life during the coming weeks. Now is a fertile time to expand your understanding of how eros and romance work when they're at their best—and to expand your repertoire of responses to love's rich challenges. Don't think of it as a tough test; imagine it as an interesting research project.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
Sagittarian poet and visual artist William Blake (1757–1827) cultivated a close relationship with lofty thoughts and mystical visions. He lived with his wife Catherine for the last 45 years of his life, but there were times when he was so preoccupied with his amazing creations that he neglected his bond with her. Catherine once said, "I have very little of Mr. Blake's company. He is always in Paradise." I hope that you won't be like that in the coming weeks. Practical matters and intimate alliances need more of your attention than usual. Consider the possibility, at least for now, of spending less time in paradise and more on earth.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
Poet Robert Graves regarded the ambiguity of poetry as a virtue, not a problem. In his view, poetry's inscrutability reflects life's true nature. As we read its enigmatic ideas and feelings, we may be inspired to understand that experience is too complex to be reduced to simplistic descriptions and overgeneralized beliefs. In fact, it's quite possible that if we invite poetry to retrain our perceptions, we will develop a more tolerant and inclusive perspective toward everything. I'm telling you this, Capricorn, because whether or not you read a lot of poetry in the coming weeks, it will be wise and healthy for you to celebrate, not just tolerate, how paradoxical and mysterious the world is.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
The coming weeks will be a favorable time to shed old habits that waste your energy, and create new habits that will serve you well for months to come. To inspire and guide your efforts, I offer these thoughts from author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau: "As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
Complete this sentence: "Sooner or later the pandemic will lose its power to limit us. When it does, I will _______________." FreeWillAstrology.com
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Contents of the Free Will Astrology Newsletter are Copyright 2021 Rob Brezsny