Law of Attraction, Divine Retribution

Photo: Wheel of Fortune, detail, by Edward Byrne-Jones. Source (x)

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a place for me to spread my wings by practicing my interpretation and jotting down my astrological musings; and if I’m true to that, it means from time to time, I’m going to have opinions that people don’t like or agree with, and today, this is that post.

I didn’t want to write it because of what will likely be its controversial nature, and because it’s anti-populist. It is, in my quintessentially Uranus-On-My-IC nature, against the grain of what I perceive to be the majority of voices in the blogosphere when it comes to astrology. But sometimes the hard things are necessary, as Saturn teaches us — and this post is necessary because it’s a foundational element to how I perceive life itself, astrology’s role in it, and thus how I interpret the stars and life. If I don’t write it, it’s a disservice to anyone visiting this blog who might want to know ahead of time what I think about this subject, as the Law of Attraction is an important topic to some people. That said, I welcome all different belief systems and might even change my own mind in the future, but just because someone has a different viewpoint doesn’t mean they shouldn’t feel welcome in my sphere.

Got it? Okay, good. Because now, we talk about the hard things, about the dark and gritty underbelly of astrology and Law of Attraction.

For those who don’t want to slog through my reasoning (as follows below), here’s my stance, short and simple: I do not subscribe to the Law of Attraction. I do not believe it. I do not practice it. I do not support it, and cannot.

What follows is the reasoning:

Let’s define Law of Attraction first. A reading of various opinions online describes a general idea of what Law of Attraction is and does, according to most people: the idea that by concentrating your desires in alignment with what you want out of life, you attract those things to you. General consensus is that you should act positively to get positive things in your life. Throw in astrology, and what we have is a concept that we can use the energies of the planets to help propel us in that direction.

Naturally, some people have variations on this definition, but on the whole, that’s Law of Attraction in a nut shell.

Law of Attraction is the kind of magical thinking that recurs in various societies depending on their stage of advanced civilization. In our current paradigm, we live in an age of amazing wonders: who in all of history is having it as easy and comfortable as we moderns in the first world? Many of us enjoy a kind of safety, comfort, and leisure, unimaginable to people struggling for survival in history’s timeline. This is an important thing to understand if we are going to put the Law of Attraction and its popularity in context, because the Law of Attraction is very much a product of this time.

Particularly in the Roaring ’00’s of recent years, the lifestyle for most people in the first world is one provided by access to easy credit. Money flows with ease if you have a Visa, a Mastercard, an American Express card. Jobs were available if you wanted one, (for a vast majority), and the rise of the Internet has had a near magical effect on all of us. If we want to communicate, it happens in a blink of an eye as compared to the sluggish mail system of old. Has there ever been a better age for immediate gratification? We want something now, and we can have it — it’s merely a credit charge or a mouse click away.

This era of easy, credit-fueled money, is inextricably linked to our idea of fate. It is no mistake that as a civilization becomes more advanced and puts its citizens at ease and plies them with all kinds of media and entertainment, while freeing up more time for leisure, than it would appear to you that all you have to do is wish for something, and it can happen. That, with a positive attitude, and it would seem all of life can change just because you think about it differently.

However, to an Ancient Greek rebuilding his village from a plague, attempting to get his harvests in on time, whose resources are few, whose entire way of life could collapse because of bad weather — he believes in a fate that controls him. The Greeks understood much better than we what fate truly is — forces which move us, no matter how much positivity, how much good feeling, how great our deeds and how charitable our acts, when the time has come, we must bend to the demands of forces greater than us, or be broken in return. Our prayers, money, well-wishing, is not enough to alter our circumstances.

This is likely hard to accept for we moderns. The ancient world and its bent toward fatalism, seems foreign, antiquated, and people still speak of it as though they were ignorants stumbling through the dark ages. Yet, they were fundamentally just like us, gifted with the same brains, same potential intelligence, the same physicality. They were just like us. The principle difference is that we have access to a financial system and abundant energy resources that spans the globe and information that can be accessed in mere seconds, and a complex society that sees to most of our needs, insulating us from death, destruction, and suffering. Even depression is no longer a foe to be feared. With a doctor’s prescription pad, your heavy sadness can be uplifted with the motion of a pen. Truly think of how amazing that is, that we need not even mire ourselves in sadness if we do not care too.

Of course we believe in the Law of Attraction. We’ve never seen it otherwise. We’ve never been subject to slavery, never been subject to extreme need and poverty that put us at the mercy of others, never been caught in the maelstrom of the fates where nothing we did mattered.

This is why I cannot support Law of Attraction. Instead, I support the Wheel of Fortune, and I should know: I’ve ridden the Wheel up and down several times, and all at a very young age. By the time I was 25, I’d suffered through more events out of my control, and shaping my life without my permission, than I can give voice to here.

Law of Attraction implies that I did something to deserve the upheavals in my life. I didn’t think enough positive thoughts. I’m too cynical, too pessimistic. By feeling bad, I attracted the bad. (Now that I’ve posted a pessimistic post, I will no doubt attract pessimistic comments!) I adjure you to really think deeply about what this implies. That I deserved to be born to parents who would move me all over the country. That I deserved to suffer the death of a parent at a young age, and that I deserved to watch another go to prison. That I deserved to struggle in poverty and squat in a trailer park when I had no other place to go — because I didn’t concentrate my desires appropriately. Or likewise, that millions of people whose homes were foreclosed upon must have brought this on themselves, or conversely, just weren’t thinking the right thoughts, the happy thoughts. That the homeless people I pass on my commute, if only they knew of Law of Attraction, they might uplift themselves from their struggle. Or those family members who died of cancer incurred their own disease because of their flawed thinking, and others survived it because they were “optimistic.”

This is a fallacy of the worst kind. No one deserves these things. We have a human right to be angry when we are wronged, we have a human right, indeed, an obligation, to be sad when terrible things arrive on our doorstep, and a right to be cynical and disillusioned when we are betrayed by our fellows.

I know quite a lot of Wiccans and pagans who practice astrology who also subscribe to Law of Attraction. What makes it interesting is that the Law of Attraction smacks of the type of thinking you might see in organized religions who like to speak of Divine Retribution. Remember when Jerry Falwell said that people dying of AIDS was God’s punishment of the homosexual community? I’m sure people will be quick to insist that Law of Attraction is nothing like Divine Retribution, but I see them both as two sides of the same coin: Law of Attraction has better PR, as it focuses exclusively on the good, on chasing after reward — for after all, what’s wrong with wanting more out of life? Nothing, of course. Many of us strive for better lives. How does that hurt anyone? It doesn’t. Yet, by saying good deeds/positive thinking will bring reward is to imply that doing the opposite gets you in trouble, because after all, to have something bad happen to you means you must have deserved it. Just because the Law of Attraction doesn’t have a by-line explicitly stating that, doesn’t mean it’s not a logical progression of its concept. (And in some spaces, it is explicitly stated that bad thoughts bring you bad things, depending on whose definition you stumble onto.) Divine Retribution is the dark sister of Law of Attraction.

Law of Attraction also ignores wealthy criminals who happen to be CEOs and good people who, through no fault of their own, are crushed by terrible circumstances. Their thoughts weren’t bad. They were not pessimistic. Some of the greatest people I’ve had the pleasure to know had next to nothing. Dirt poor, whose hearts were too big for the world, and this was likely a result of their suffering. Their suffering is not what attracts suffering. Their suffering  made them better people, people worth knowing, people with dignity, people who had transformed Saturn’s lead into a luminous gold. To believe in the Law of Attraction is to ignore the many people who exist in opposition, or even, in spite of it.

Law of Attraction is a seductive idea. We all want to believe that by committing an act as effortless as changing our way of thinking, we can rearrange our reality. After all, there’s nothing sexy about the idea of all of our events being predetermined, a heartless fate that awaits, a Wheel which when it turns, will crush you after you ride it to the top. But because a concept is unpalatable does not invalidate it. That is, if anything, a critical sign that the Law of Attraction is deeply flawed — because it is so seductive, you want to believe it, and most of all, we are in love with our independence, with how easily we can rearrange our lives. We feel, and behave, as gods, with limitless pleasures and distractions at our disposal, rearranging our environments to alleviate our discomforts, no matter how trivial. But that ability depends on our modern day conveniences, our internet, our money, our mobility. Take these away, and do we, in fact, have as much free will as we thought? Or does it seem, without all of our technology, that life controls us, much more than we control it?

I believe in fate. Because I know without all of these external wonders we have accrued and leveraged, I have no power over anything. I understand the deep humility of my station in life: I am a very small, infinitesmal speck of dust in the oceanic void of galaxies and space. And I am content with my speck of dust.


 

While I came to this analysis on my own, as in all things, we often arrive there with helpful clues from other sources. Resources which helped inform my viewpoint:

Podcast, The Extraenvironmentalist with Morris Berman
“Existence determines consciousness, not consciousness that determines existence.”

Bright-Sided, by Barbara Ehrenreich

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles

 

 

 

 

Astrological Portraits: BBC’s Sherlock as Virgo

Mythology  and storytelling — its place in astrology — is a never ending fascination of mine. While watching the recent BBC special the “Abominable Bride” over on my side of the pond, it occurred to me that there’s few characters who so embody an astrological symbol more than Sherlock. Having read Doyle and seen various interpretations, I think it’s fair to say that the modern revision has probably single handedly launched Benedict Cumberbatch’s career and suddenly made the dour detective sexy again.

Virgo probably isn’t the sign that comes to mind when people think “sexy”, but Virgo’s alignment with the concept of “virgin” is no indication of their actual sex lives. When we understand Virgo’s generalized characteristics, it’s fascinating to see how well BBC’s Sherlock is intertwined with it. From the detective’s manic attention to detail, interior sense of organization (mind palace, anyone?) we see the light of Mercury infusing nearly everything this new, retold Sherlock does, able not only to use every new device and gadget available to him, but to also communicate across social strata and various landscapes. All the while, Sherlock maintains a well-defined sense of identity that is never porous. When this sense of identity is threatened, as in the “Hound of Baskerville”, all systems shut down and he reaches a level of near hysteria, before order is restored and Sherlock’s identity is once again salvaged by rationality. Virgo, or the Virgin, earns its names in many respects, but also for the virginal quality of identity, through which nothing will penetrate.

Even the creators seemed to hit on this, albeit subconsciously. In building the modern character, they leave it in the air as to the nature of his sexuality, preferring to let things play out later on when the story warrants it. No better descriptor for a visual representation of the Virgo concept is given than when Sherlock manipulates his way into Irene Adler’s residence in “Scandal in Belgravia” — disguised as a priest, no less. In older definitions of what it meant to be Virgin, it meant a woman who owned her sexuality without answering to anyone, rather than a state of intact virginity. The concept of Virgin taken to its extreme is evident in Sherlock’s donning of the Roman collar. To the viewer, the character smacks of sexual naivete, but his mastery over his work suggests vast experience, titillating the viewer by these opposing contrasts, for we sense the Roman collar is a facade, a sham. His work smolders with funnelled libido.

As it is with many perfectionists, one need not be a Virgo to see how intense people become when focused on the details of their life’s work, often at the expense of the rest of their lives. It’s more apparent to us in public displays like the arts, where we can appreciate the violinist who has mastered his art through years of rigorous study, though we may only view the result. We can see it when we fall in love with a work of fiction, swept away by the heady illusion which often comes at the expense of years of perfectionist devotion to the word.

Naturally, the usual inclination is to perceive Sherlock’s character as being that of Scorpionic influence; after all, delving deep into the occulted is what this character builds his reputation on. That cannot be discounted. While Sherlock’s occupation speaks to Pluto, it would have no serious force without Virgo’s mastery in craft and attention to detail to bring it to bear. But I also think it’s no accident that as fixed star Regulus moved into Virgo in 2012 from its home in Leo, it’s interesting to wonder if our cultural values will reflect this in such heroic — or anti-heroic — characters. Certainly, it weighs heavy on my mind as the North Node prepares to conjunct Jupiter in Virgo at the start of 2016.

Neptune/Saturn Square 2016: Lessons

Neptune Art Credit (x)
Source (x)

Many astrologers are aflutter about the Neptune/Saturn Square of 2016, and indeed, the lessons rain down fierce for a great many of us in this interim between the first contact, November 26, 2015, and the second, June 18th, 2016, and the last, September 10, 2016.

For me, my situation is particularly amplified by a natal Neptune in Sagittarius where Saturn is currently diving in, compounding my Pluto square midlife transit in Capricorn, while today’s Neptune in Pisces is making sparks by, not only squaring Saturn in Sag, but also testing my mettle in an opposition to my natal 1st house Virgo Saturn. (For details on Orcus, who is also thrown into this cosmic morass, you really need to read Jem Neal’s amazing breakdown at the Mountain Astrologer.)

I recognize the wisdom of admitting that all things in life are merely different energies, neither good nor bad, and many which we must develop the strength to transform, but let’s just call a spade what a spade is, as we do in my vulgar state of New Jersey: BEND OVER. With Mercury in retrograde and Neptune on the side of maximum vagueness, comes a cost, and its results are often not pretty. Suffering can be an unavoidable side affect of hard transits.

Today I had to turn away a client in my field of design work. There’s a lesson in these experiences that can be defined by the stars themselves. I made contact with a businessman helming a publishing business (9th house Sag), in dire need of a graphic designer. I made contact with him but from the first, our discussions were blighted with a vagueness on his part (Neptune). I agreed to do some sample work so he could decide if he would like to take me on as a contractor. Delighted by the results and my quick turnaround time borne of years of dedicated skill, he immediately flooded my inbox with requests, though we’d only had a brief conversation in which he mentioned paying me several hundred dollars to put together his publication and create a few dozen new ads.

The problem was he never really revealed how much work was involved and how many publications it was intended I should put together, and how long he expected this job to last. I requested he put into writing all the information he gave me over the phone, and with added details so I could know the full scope of his operations. Yet, there was always a reason he could not — an event he had to attend, and then a reluctant capitulation to give me a written agreement, if I wanted it. Neptune rules this man, making his every communication vague and non-committal at best — purposely deceptive at worst. Saturn, dishonored, seethes in the background, tapping his fingers along the counter top of the cosmos with a jaundiced eye. And my own Saturn, in my 1st house, guest with my natal North node which is now in the rare proposition of conjuncting with Jupiter, a natal transit, will not brook this type of dismissal.

I suspect that many Neptunian figures in their worst behavior will be acting out and doing malice. Fraud and conmen will multiply as economies contract under an expansive Jupiter in Virgo’s demands for sacrifice. Beware deception. It would be a good time to be cautious of the drugs you might be taking and their effect on you, and others around you. Make your Neptunian addictions productive ones, such as escaping into a hobby whose results are tangible and positive in influence.

The stars are not necessary to realize that in times of economic contraction, which we are surely experiencing, that it sets the stage for the worst of what Neptune has to offer. Neptune will be like that lazy roommate who has been piling the dishes on Saturn. When things were going good, people overlooked Neptune’s lack of follow-through and forgave him on the basis of his charm. But when there is not enough resources to go around, people begin to look around themselves and ask why our good friend Neptune is able to do less work, eat more, smoke more, enjoy himself more — and not the rest of us? Frictions erupt between relationships that were previously carefree, if the balance of respect is not kept.

The wise person will honor each of these planets in their turn, as needed for their own chart signature. Neptune is not a bad planet, far from it — but with these aspects, he may well be thrown in a harsher light as Saturn asks for his share of the rent. And Neptune, unused to this pressure, will be forced into uncomfortable situations unknown to him previously.

 

 

 

Mercury Retrograde

If there’s anything I learn through observation of the natural world, it’s that if we want to make the most of any moment, we must flow with it, not against it — even when those events are those we would rather fight against.

In typical fashion, bills have made it to the mail box late, the computer has crashed, freelance gigs have been mired in confusion and miscommunications, and all things seem to be flowing in reverse.

I often watch co-workers expend much energy complaining and expressing discomfort and unhappiness when things go wrong. This has been the social convention we labor under, where it is expected we will complain unendingly about a situation, a job, a co-worker who bothers us. This is our foremost reaction, that of knee-jerk vocalizations, which in reality, is our cry for help. We want someone to hear our call, and come help us. We want someone to hear our whine, and fix our problem. Except, we are not babies any longer; and no one is coming.

Mercury retrograde is in the end, not that bad, though for many people, a simple issue like a missed bill, a co-worker’s paperwork mistake, a missed red light, all these things can have a cascade effect which end in massive overturnings of our lives. We cannot afford to neglect the attention Mercury deserves in our lives, lest that missed bill ends in foreclosure, our co-worker’s mistake costs the company millions, or the red light ends in smoking wreckage. Naturally, we might assume other aspects are at work to lead to bigger upheavals, but Mercury is there, in the background, pulling at us to pay attention to the messages he sends.

This retrograde period, instead of wailing against the changes and fighting Mercury’s reversal, I’m making it work for me, going over projects in need of attention, refusing clients who will not spell out explicitly what they want, and using my computer crash to format the drive and set up a dual operating system with Ubuntu and Windows, and teach myself code.

Use Mercury wisely, or he will use you as his messenger — and you will be the one who accidentally throws out someone’s important mail, you will be the hidden hand who neglects the project at work that someone else will clean up, and you will be the one in the fender bender — the proverbial wrench in the works.

Which one do you think you are this Mercury period?