To Live in Radical Amazement

To Take Nothing for Granted

"Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement — get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed."

—Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jewish theologian and civil rights activist

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"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

—Rainer Maria Rilke


"The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to seeing them that we call them ordinary things."

—Hans Christian Anderson


"I will wade out till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers. I will take the sun in my mouth and leap into the ripe air, alive, with closed eyes."

—E. E. Cummings


"The whole existence is celebrating. These trees are not serious, these birds are not serious. The rivers and the oceans are wild, and everywhere there is fun, everywhere there is joy and delight."

—some guru


"For aren't you and I gods? Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Release life's rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming. Laughter. Running."

—Vladimir Nabokov

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HISTORY OF PRONOIA: My most recent book is Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings. No one else has written a book about pronoia, but others have worked with the concept.

In his novella Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, J. D. Salinger wrote about pronoia without using the word. “Oh, God," one of his characters says, "if I’m anything by a clinical name, I’m a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”

The actual term "pronoia" was coined in 1976 by Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, who defined it as "the suspicion that the universe is a conspiracy on your behalf."

Another early contributor to the concept was psychologist Fraser Clark, founder of the Zippies. In the 1990s he referred to pronoia as "the sneaking hunch that others are conspiring behind your back to help you." Once you have contracted this benevolent virus, he said, the symptoms include "sudden attacks of optimism and outbreaks of goodwill."

Neither Terence McKenna or Robert Anton Wilson ever invoked the word "pronoia" as far as I know, but they both added nuance to the concept. McKenna said, "I believe reality is a marvelous joke staged for my edification and amusement, and everybody is working very hard to make me happy."

Wilson offered advice about the proper way to rehearse a devotion to pronoia: "You should view the world as a conspiracy run by a very closely-knit group of nearly omnipotent people, and you should think of those people as yourself and your friends."

Without invoking the term pronoia, Paulo Cuelho added to its meaning: "Know what you want and all the universe conspires to help you achieve it."

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As a writer who appreciates the power of language to shape our experience, I'm in favor of questioning words and phrases that might be hurtful or oppressive to some people. In my own creative expression, I have made it a point to keep evolving my usage.

For instance, I no longer employ the words "pioneer" and "pioneering," because they are associated so intimately with colonialism, with the theft of indigenous people's land and destruction of their culture. Instead I might use the words "trailblazing" or "groundbreaking" or "innovative."

I'm not saying that you should do as I do; am merely stating my personal choice.

I don't necessarily agree with every organization's list of words to be avoided. For example, I don't have a problem with the use of the term "spirit animal."

Some say that this is a cultural appropriation of a Native American concept. That's not how I understand it. In fact, pretty much every culture in every part of the world in every historical era has had ideas about animals that serve as guides and helpers.

For instance, some of my Polish ancestors regarded the cuckoo as the spirit creature associated with Zywie, Goddess of health and healing.

Furthermore, "spirit animal" is an English term. Native languages use Native words.

Nonetheless, to honor the wishes of those indigenous people who do regard "spirit animal" as taboo, I instead employ terms like "power creature," "medicine animal," "medicine creature," "spirit creature," and others.

I don't mind coming up with new ways to say things. Indeed, it's the writer's job to be innovative in using language.


Brandeis University published a guide about oppressive language. In general I like it, although, again, I don't agree with it all. What do you think?

From Brandeis: "Identity-based oppressive language includes a range of word and phrases including potentially lesser-known slurs, unhelpful euphemisms, and exclusionary words and phrases. Important to note: the appropriateness of some identity-based language varies between insiders and outsiders of a group."

More from Brandeis:


One person has told me she doesn't like the Brandeis recommendations. She says she is tired of having to censor herself.

Here's how I reply: I don't regard it as censorship at all. People who use language consciously are eagerly alert for the opportunity to evolve the way language is used. They enjoy transcending numbing idioms and worn-out figures of speech so as to stimulate fresh thoughts with an invigorating use of words.

Why should we be attached to using terms that are boring, inexact, and fall-back excuses for lazy thinking? I'm not.


Poets and imaginative writers coin new words all the time, in every language. They're helping us outgrow outmoded ways of thinking and feeling!

Have you checked out that hotbed of language reinvention lately?


"Crazy" appears on the Brandeis list. For me personally, "crazy" has always been a very positive word. "Crazy wisdom" is one of my life-long studies. But I am considering dropping "crazy" from my vocabulary, since it may indeed be offensive to some people in ways that it's not for me.

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Why do we focus so intensely on our problems? What draws us to them? Why are they so attractive? They have the magnet power of love: somehow we desire our problems; we are in love with them much as we want to get rid of them.

Problems sustain us -- maybe that's why they don't go away. What would a life be without them? Completely tranquilized and loveless . . . There is a secret love hiding in each problem."

—James Hillman, The Essential James Hillman: A Blue Fire, edited by Thomas Moore

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I have made it possible for subscribers to my newsletter to pay a subscription fee to me for my newsletter, BUT ONLY IF THEY WANT TO AND CAN AFFORD TO!

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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"Everyone carries with them at least one piece to someone else's puzzle." So wrote Lawrence Kushner in his book, Honey from the Rock.

In other words, you have in your possession certain clues to your loved ones' destinies — secrets they haven't discovered themselves.

Wouldn't you love to hand over those clues — to make a gift of the puzzle pieces that are most needed by the people you care about?

Search your depths for insights you've never communicated. Tell truths you haven't found a way to express before now. More than you know, you have the power to mobilize your companions' dreams.

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Whether you're a fan of a monotheistic God or a pluralistic Goddess, you've undoubtedly noticed a deeply rooted quirk about the Divine Temperament: an extreme fondness for change. The Creator really likes to keep things moving right along.

Earlier in my life, I bore a grudge against this incorrigible inclination. But after repeatedly having my karma crumpled for resisting it, I realized I'd better get used to it. In recent years, I've come a long way in retraining myself to be cheerfully cooperative with the primal flux.

As a reward, the Cackling Goddess (my current favorite name for the Sublime Mystery) has blessed me with a relentless series of opportunities to prove how well I've  learned my lesson. She just keeps throwing changes my way, daring me to adjust with as much skill and grace as I can muster.

And you?

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His Passion For Protecting the World’s Most-Trafficked Mammal Just Earned Him a Major Award.

A Rose Inspired This Design For the Smartest Way to Collect And Purify Water.

16-Year-Old Entrepreneur Buys Confiscated Storage Units to Help Owners Recover Family Treasures.


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

Available at Powells:

Available at Barnes & Noble:

Available at Amazon:

A free preview of the book is available here:


Please tell me your own nominations for PRONOIA RESOURCES:

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Week beginning July 22

Copyright 2021 by Rob Brezsny

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): "Once upon a time": That's your phrase of power these days. What do I mean by that? I'm suggesting that you will strengthen your problem-solving abilities by engaging in playful pretending for the sheer fun of it. I'm predicting that you will boost your confidence by dreaming up amusing magical stories in which you endure heroic tests and achieve epic feats. And I'm proposing that you will fine-tune your ability to accomplish practical feats if you regard your robust imagination as crucial to your success.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Virgo singer-songwriter Fiona Apple says she's not religious. On the other hand, she regularly kneels on the ground and announces to whatever great power might be listening, “Thank you for my problems, and I send my love everywhere.” She's sincere. She regards her sadness and her challenges as being equally important to her happiness and success. The difficulties teach her what she didn't even realize she needed to know, and make her appreciate the good times more intensely. I suggest you borrow from her approach right now.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Nobel Prize-winning author Albert Camus wrote, "Great feelings bring with them their own universe"—which he said may either be degraded or splendid, selfish or generous. I love that he allowed for the possibility that great feelings could be positive and noble. So many renowned thinkers focus on negative and ignoble states of mind. In accordance with current astrological potentials, Libra, your task is to cultivate feelings that are splendid and generous. These sentiments should exalt you, uplift you, and empower you to spread transformative benevolence to those whose lives you touch.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "How can you hold on to something that won’t hold still?" asked Scorpio poet Benjamin Fondane. In general, you Scorpios have more talent than every other sign of the zodiac at doing just that: corralling wiggly, slippery things and making them work for you. And I expect this skill will be especially in play for you during the coming weeks. Your grasp on the elusive assets won't ever be perfect, but it will be sufficiently effective to accomplish small wonders.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Sagittarian Calvin Trillin is a witty writer with a good imagination and a flair for inventive language. But back in school, he confesses, "Math was always my bad subject. I couldn't convince my teachers that many of my answers were meant ironically." You Sagittarians are authorized by the cosmic powers-that-be to borrow your style and attitude from Trillin in the coming weeks. So you shouldn't be fixated on mathematical precision and fastidious logic; your task is not to be conceptually impeccable and scrupulously sensible. Rather, you have a license to be extra lyrical and lush and rhapsodic and humorous and irrepressible.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In 2011, an eBay seller produced a 19th-century photo that he said proved Capricorn actor Nicholas Cage is a time-traveling vampire. Although the character in the image did indeed resemble the Oscar-winning star, he rejected the theory, and emphatically declared that he is not a time-traveling vampire. Maybe that all sounds absurd, but I must tell you that you may soon have to deal with people's equally inaccurate and off-kilter theories about you. My advice: Don't take it personally. Simply correct others' misimpressions and rely solely on yourself for definitive ideas about who you are.

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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

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 don't much believe in astrology. But that doesn't seem to get in the way of me deriving a whole lot of benefits from your expanded audio horoscopes."

—A. Arrosto, Indianapolis

"You have an amazing aptitude for cutting through the lies I tell myself. Thanks for the gentle shocks."

—T. Preneris, Toronto

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Art by Winona Cookie

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AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I've assembled excerpts of love poems for your inspiration. Why? Because you're entering the Intensified Intimacy Phase of your astrological cycle. Consider using the following riffs as inspiration when you interact with loved ones. 1. "I profess the religion of love; it's the belief, the faith I keep." 2. "Holding your hand, I can hear your bones singing into mine and feel the moon as it rolls through you." 3. "Raw light spills from your eyes, utterly naked, awakening an intoxicating shimmer of adventure." 4. "I ask you please to speak to me forever." (Poem fragments are from Ibn 'Arabi, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, Herman Hesse, Sara Eliza Johnson, Alejandra Pizarnik.)

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): An Australian witch named Michelle Clinton praises the joys of a "moon garden." It features flowers and plants that reveal their full beauty after dark. Among the flowers that bloom at night are evening primrose, angel's trumpet, and Dutchman's pipe cactus. As for the flowers whose aromas are most potent after the sun sets: night-blooming jasmine, garden heliotrope, and honeysuckle. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you will have resemblances to a moon garden in the near future, Pisces. Be alert for opportunities to glow and grow in the dark. (More:

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Author Valerie Andrews reminds us that as children, we all had the "magical capacity to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees." Oh, how I would love you to be able to recover even a fraction of those talents in the coming days. My reading of the current astrological potentials tells me that your chances of doing so are much better than usual. Your ability to connect with the eternal child and wise animal within you is at a peak.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Taurus singer Barbra Streisand has a shopping mall built below her large home. Its purpose isn't to sell consumer goods to strangers but rather to stash her precious belongings and show them off when friends come over. Among the storefronts are an antique store, doll shop, costume shop, and candy store. The coming weeks would be an excellent time for you to start building a shopping mall beneath your home, too, Taurus. If that's too expensive or complicated, here are alternatives: 1. Revitalize your appreciation for your treasured possessions. 2. Acquire a new treasured possession or two that will inspire you to love your life even more than you already do. 3. Reacquaint yourself with the spiritual powers that your treasured possessions arouse in you.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The Dalai Lama says there are core similarities between science and Buddhism. Both keep searching for ever-more complete versions of the truth. Both employ firsthand observation and experimentation to do that noble work. If they find new information that contradicts previously held versions of the truth, both are willing to discard them. Now that you Geminis are entering the Deep Questioning Phase of your astrological cycle, I'd love you to make generous use of the Buddhist/Scientific approach. More complete versions of the truth will be available in abundance in the coming weeks—if you're alert for them.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Cancerian artist A⁠rtemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656) achieved the impossible: She became a supremely skilled and renowned painter in an era when women had virtually no opportunities to become artists. Many aspects of her work distinguished her from other painters. For example, she depicted women as having strong, agile hands and arms. In Artemisia's world, the power of women's wrists, forearms, and fingers signifies their ability to put their mark upon the world, to accomplish strenuous practical tasks with grace and flair. If I were going to paint images of you in the coming weeks, I would also portray you as having strong, agile hands and arms. I suspect you'll have potent agency to get things done—to adeptly manipulate the material world to serve your ideals. (Thoughts about Artemisia's hands come from art historian Mary D. Garrard.)

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Homework. Send me an oracle you'd like to receive for the first week of September.

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Submissions sent to Rob Brezsny's Astrology Newsletter or in response to "homework assignments" may be published in a variety of formats at Rob Brezsny's discretion, including but not limited to newsletters, books, the Free Will Astrology column, and Free Will Astrology website. We reserve the right to edit submissions for length, style, and content.

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Contents of the Free Will Astrology Newsletter are Copyright 2021 Rob Brezsny

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