Your Story Is a Sacred Treasure

Your Body is a Sacred Temple

Therefore, dark past,

I'm about to do it.

I'm about to forgive you

for everything.

—Mary Oliver

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A HEALTHY EGO IS BEAUTIFUL

Jeff Brown (https://facebook.com/SOULSHAPING) describes "Patriarchal Spirituality" like this: Those ungrounded and inhumane "spiritual" models that have been fostered by emotionally armored, self-avoidant men.

These models share some or all of the following beliefs:

* the ego is the enemy of a spiritual life

* the "monkey mind" is the cause of suffering

* your feelings are an illusion

* your personal identifications and stories are necessarily false

* witnessing your pain transforms it

* your body is a spiritually bankrupt toxic quagmire

* the only real consciousness is an "absolute" and "transcendent" one

* stillness and silence are THE path

* isolation is the best way to access "higher states"

* there is no "self"

* meditation is THE royal road to enlightenment

* enlightenment actually exists

* formlessness over form

* the ultimate path is upward and vertical

* real spirituality exists independent of our humanness

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In fact, most of the above is a blatant lie.

Here are more accurate hypotheses about the nature of human life:

* A healthy ego is beautifully essential to healthy functioning

* The monkey mind is fed by the monkey heart (the unresolved emotional body)

* Many of our identities and stories are fundamental to who we are, where we have been, why we are here

* Healing your pain transforms it; watching it is only a preliminary step

* Our bodies are our spiritual temples

* The only "real" consciousness is one that integrates all that we are and all that this is

* Stillness and silence are only one path; many people prefer movement and sound

* There is no "higher" state (we aren’t birds). But connection may be the best way to access deepened states

* There is a magnificent self; the work is to align it with your sacred purpose, not to deny it altogether

* Meditation is not THE royal road; it’s one road, and it is not any more effective than embodied movement and emotional release as a clarification and transformation tool

* Enlightenment does not exist; enrealment does. (Be real now.) And it’s a relative experience, changing form as we and this changes form

* We are form, and we are here to in-form our humanness

* If there is an "ultimate path," it's downward (rooted) and horizontal

* There is no distinction between our spirituality and our humanness

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The wool has been pulled over our eyes. Men who were too unhealthily egoically to admit that they couldn’t deal with their humanness, their feelings, their trauma, had to find a system that smokescreened their avoidance. They found it. It’s called "Enlightenment." It’s also called "Spiritual Mastery."

And it usually involves leaving the world, in one form or another. This way, they can convince themselves and others that they have mastered the one true path.

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In fact, Enlightenment is just a construct that is intended to avoid the multi-aspected nature of reality.

In fact, they are mastering nothing. They are merely fleeing their fragmentation, their confusion, and the fact that they don't know how to find their center in the heart of the world.

Don't be fooled. They know less about reality than day to day people. They know less about reality than those who live from their hearts.

What we need now are models that lead us back into our hearts, into relatedness, into a deep and reverential regard for the self. Those models may invite us to detach in an effort to see ourselves through a different lens, but they will not leave us out there, floating into the eternal emptiness and calling that a life.

Detachment is a tool; it’s NOT a life.

The models we need will then invite us back into our bodies, back into our hearts, and back into relatedness with each other. (No more "enlightened" masters sitting in caves while the women of the village bring them food. If you can’t find your transformation in the village, you haven’t found shit).

They will invite us to integrate what we find "out there" with who we are "in here." They will invite us to embody the now, rather than to pretend we have found it in the heart of our dissociation.

It’s time to co-create spiritual models that begin, and end, within our wondrous humanness.

It’s not "out there," dear friends. It’s right here, inside these aging body temples.

~ Jeff Brown

The inimitable Jeff Brown is here: https://www.facebook.com/SOULSHAPING

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YOU'RE EXEMPT FROM PURSUING "ENLIGHTENMENT"

How Is Enlightenment Like a Million-Dollar Vacation Home?

For some seekers, spiritual enlightenment is the ultimate commodity. They believe that through diligent meditation and self-­improvement, there will come a day when it will no longer elude their grasp. Breaking through to the singular state of cosmic consciousness, they will forever after own it, free and clear.

Permanently illuminated! Never to backslide into the dull ignominy of normal human awareness!

Here's what I have to say about that: It's a delusion.

The fact is, the nature of perfection is always mutating. What constitutes enlightenment today will always be different tomorrow. Even if ­you're fortunate and wise enough to score a sliver of "enlightenment," it's not a static treasure that becomes your indestructible, everlasting possession. Rather, it remains a mercurial knack that must be continually re-­earned.

If you want to befriend the Divine Wow, you must not only be willing to change ceaselessly—you have to love to change ceaselessly.

Lucky you: All of creation is conspiring to help you live like that.

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Certificate of Exemption from Enlightenment

This document certifies that

____[your name here] __________________________

is immune to the lust for enlightenment and is exempt from the need to seek enlightenment.

This document also certifies that

____[your name here] __________________________

has seen through the fraud of the enlightenment con game and is excused from further clawing and scraping to own a piece of that specious reward.

This document further certifies that

____[your name here] __________________________

is free from the temptation to be consecrated as enlightened by any guru, saint, holy person, or religious organization that claims the right to do so.

Finally, this document certifies that

____[your name here] __________________________

has already been enlightened a million times in a million different ways anyway, and that seeking even further enlightenments would be redundant and even greedy.

To ensure the continued validity of this document,

____[your name here] __________________________

vows to regularly renew these three understandings: that it is impossible to ever reach a complete and permanent state of enlightenment; that there is no single state of awareness that constitutes enlightenment; and that since the nature of reality keeps changing, the nature of enlightenment keeps changing as well.

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SACRED ADVERTISEMENT

Your inexhaustible capacity to enjoy life's open-ended invitation to change is brought to you by the film Destino, which was a collaboration between surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney's team of animators. It was begun in 1945 and completed in 2006.

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LET'S MAKE MORALITY FUN

Are you turned off by the authoritarian, libido-mistrusting perversity of the right-wing moral code, but equally reluctant to embrace the atheism embedded in some of the left wing's code of goodness?

Are you hungry for a value system rooted in beauty, love, pleasure, and liberation instead of order, control, politeness, and fear, but allergic to the sophistry of the spiritual bypassers?

Are you apathetic toward the saccharine goodness evangelized by sentimental, superstitious fanatics, but equally bored by the intellectuals who worship at the empty-hearted shrine of scientific materialism?

It may be time for you to whip up your very own moral code. If you do, you might want to keep the following guidelines in mind:      

1. A moral code becomes immoral unless it can thrive without a devil and enemy.

2. A moral code grows ugly unless it prescribes good-natured rebellion against automaton-like behavior offered in its support.

3. A moral code becomes murderous unless it's built on a love for the fact that EVERYTHING CHANGES ALL THE TIME, and unless it perpetually adjusts its reasons for being true.

4. A moral code will corrupt its users unless it ensures that their primary motivation for being good is because it's fun.

5. A moral code deadens the soul of everyone it touches unless it has a built-in sense of humor.

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THE TRUE SAVIOR

Some Christians believe Jesus will come back to fix this corrupt world. Certain Jewish sects propose that the messiah will soon appear on Earth for the first time. Among Muslims, some predict the legendary Twelfth Imam will return and bring salvation to humanity.

In India, devotees of Vishnu expect the avatar Kalki to arrive on the scene and carry out a series of miraculous redemptions. Even Buddhists prophesy Maitreya, the chosen one who will establish universal peace.

My divinations foretell a very different scenario. I suspect that the whole point of our spectacularly confounding moment in history is that each of us must become our own savior.

And if we hope to accomplish that, relying on our best amateur efforts, we will have to stop waiting around for a supposed professional to do our work for us. We should also shed our addiction to believing in the possibility of any kind of magical intervention.

Franz Kafka had a view that's not necessarily mutually exclusive with mine: "The messiah will come when we don't need him anymore."

Let's also consider the evidence offered by William Blake, as quoted in Poets and God by David L. Edwards: "Jesus Christ is the only God. And so am I. And so are you."

One more clue, this time from Deepak Chopra: "Every person is a God in embryo. Its only desire is to be born."

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YOUR BRAND NEW NAME

In some spiritual traditions, devotees attempt an arduous process of self-transformation as they retrain themselves to perceive the world from God's point of view. If they succeed, they're honored with an initiation ritual and given a new name to consecrate their altered state.

I have the same problem with this custom that I have with the idea of enlightenment: Once isn't enough. Just as anyone in his or her right spiritual mind has a duty to keep claiming fresh varieties of enlightenment until the end of time, so should the initiations and renamings continue forever.

In my opinion, these considerations apply to you. You may not have sequestered yourself for years in a mountaintop monastery, and you may not have risen every morning at 5 a.m. to say prayers for hours, but you are an authentic devotee who has undergone equivalent ordeals.

Your spiritual transformation has unfolded as you've dealt with the challenges of daily life during our epic moment in history, when unprecedented levels of annihilation and resurrection are the norm.

You have earned the right, therefore, to enjoy enlightenment after enlightenment and initiation after initiation and renaming after renaming.

I invite you to get started with a do-it-yourself initiation ceremony. It doesn't have to be long and complicated, and you can create it yourself. As an example of what you might do, here's a ritual that some Beauty and Truth Lab's initiates have performed:

1. Eat a pinch of dirt to declare your solidarity with Mother Earth.

2. Burn a five-dollar bill to purify your relationship with symbols of wealth.

3. Kick yourself in the ass to affirm your ongoing intention to discipline your shadow.

As one of your initiatory rewards, consider adopting a fresh alias during this and every initiation you carry out in the future. You can abandon your existing name if you want, or simply add your new tag to the current mix.

To celebrate the occasion, I invoke on your behalf the inspiration of all shedding things.

Your tree of power will be the eucalyptus, whose bark peels away to reveal fresh layers beneath. Your lucky symbol will be the molting snake.

Your sacred insect will be the silverfish, which bursts through its exoskeleton as it grows a new and bigger one.

Your role model will be Japanese artist Hokusai (1760–1849), who had such a passionate commitment to reinventing himself that he celebrated 60 births, each time giving himself a new name.

Below is a list of titles and names you might want to steal for your own use. Feel free to dream up your own, of course.

Wild Face      

Shadow Wrestler      

Kiss Genius      

Goal Thwacker

Boink Worthy      

Fizzy Nectar      

Rumbler      

Thrill Witch

Rowdy Gusto      

Bliss Mutator      

Silky Banger      

Phoenix Nectar

Mucho Gusto Coco Loco      

Mango Sucker      

Pain Killer      

Fire Keeper

Wobble Binder      

Earthshaker      

Wish Crayon      

Pearly Thunder

Thumper      

Gut Stormer      

Storm Tamer

Free Sigh      

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"TRY TO BE A LITTLE KINDER"

One of the leading intellectuals of the 20th century, Aldous Huxley, wrote more than 20 books, including Brave New World.

In his later years he made a surprising confession. "It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life," he wrote, "and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder.'"

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Later in his life, Aldous Huxley came to regret one thing: how "preposterously serious" he had been when he was younger. "There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet," he ruminated, "trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling . . . Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply."

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"When Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to the San Francisco Zen Center, the students asked him what they could do to improve their practice. He had entered a monastery at age sixteen, was an ordained monk, and had endured the horrors of the war in Vietnam. I imagine they expected some rigorous prescription for deepening their spiritual life.

"Thich Nhat Han's response: 'You guys get up too early for one thing; you should get up a little later. And your practice is too grim. I have just two instructions for you. One is to breathe, and one is to smile.'"

—from True Refuge, by Tara Brach.

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GIFTS

If you'd like to donate to my well-being:

1. Visit my Gift Page and donate: https://tinyurl.com/DonationsForRob

2. 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 https://RealAstrology.com

3. 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.

Go to https://RealAstrology.com . Register or log in. On the new page, click on "Subscribe / Renew" under "Daily Text Message Horoscopes" in the right-hand column.

4 Commit to offering me a regular donation through my Patreon page at https://Patreon.com/FreeWillAstrology

5. Send checks or cash to me at P.O. Box 4400, San Rafael, CA 94913.

6. Finally, 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.

Sign up here: Newsletter.FreeWillAstrology.com

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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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MORE PRONOIA RESOURCES:

Bank That Lost 66 Workers on 9/11 has Paid for All Their Kids to Go to College. https://tinyurl.com/49u8a8uh

Firefighters Finally Reach Deaf Dog Trapped in Storm Drain After 10 Hours of Trying. https://tinyurl.com/36bmz84w

8 in 10 Americans Have Taken Steps to Improve Their Health Since the Pandemic Started. https://tinyurl.com/ejp2s5mh

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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 Bookshop.org: https://tinyurl.com/548hp8y8

Available at Powells: https://bit.ly/PowellsPronoia

Available at Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/PronoiaBN

Available at Amazon: https://bit.ly/Pronoia

A free preview of the book is available here: https://tinyurl.com/PronoiaPreview

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Please tell me your own nominations for PRONOIA RESOURCES: Truthrooster@gmail.com.

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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY

Week beginning October 14

Copyright 2021 by Rob Brezsny

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "We must never be afraid to go too far, for truth lies beyond," declared novelist Marcel Proust. I wouldn't normally offer that counsel to you Libras. One of your strengths is your skill at maintaining healthy boundaries. You know how to set dynamic limits that are just right: neither too extreme nor too timid. But according to my analysis of the astrological potentials, the coming weeks will be one of those rare times when you'll be wise to consider an alternative approach: that the most vigorous truths and liveliest energies may lie beyond where you usually go.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Author William S. Burroughs claimed his greatest strength was a "capacity to confront myself no matter how unpleasant." But he added a caveat to his brag: Although he recognized his mistakes, he rarely made any corrections. Yikes! Dear Scorpio, I invite you to do what Burroughs couldn't. Question yourself about how you might have gone off course, but then actually make adjustments and atonements. As you do, keep in mind these principles: 1. An apparent mistake could lead you to a key insight or revelation. 2. An obstruction to the flow may prod you to open your mind and heart to a liberating possibility. 3. A snafu might motivate you to get back to where you belong. 4. A mess could show you something important you've been missing.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In her novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Sagittarian author Shirley Jackson wrote, "Today my winged horse is coming, and I am carrying you off to the moon, and on the moon we will eat rose petals." I wonder what you would do if you received a message like that—an invitation to wander out on fanciful or mysterious adventures. I hope you'd be receptive. I hope you wouldn't say, "There are so such things as flying horses. It's impossible to fly to the moon and eat rose petals." Even if you don't typically entertain such whimsical notions, the time is favorable to do so now. I bet you will be pleased with the unexpected grace they bring your way.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Capricorn author Susan Sontag wrote about people who weren't receptive to her intensity and intelligence. She said she always had "a feeling of being 'too much' for them—a creature from another planet—and I would try to scale myself down to size, so I could be apprehendable and lovable by them." I understand the inclination to engage in such self-diminishment. We all want to be appreciated and understood. But I urge you to refrain from taming and toning yourself down too much in the coming weeks. Don't do what Sontag did. In my astrological opinion, it's time for you to be an extra vivid version of yourself.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "I am diagnosed with not having enough insanely addictive drugs coursing through my body," joked comedian Sarah Silverman. Judging from current cosmic rhythms, I'm inclined to draw a similar conclusion about you. It may be wise for you to dose yourself with intoxicants. JUST KIDDING! I lied. Here's the truth: I would love for you to experience extra rapture, mystic illumination, transcendent sex, and yes, even intoxication in the coming weeks. My analysis of the astrological omens suggests these delights are more likely and desirable than usual. However, the best way to arouse them is by communing with your favorite non-drug and non-alcohol inebriants. The benefits will last longer and incur no psychological cost.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "The truth is," writes cartoonist Bill Watterson, "most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive." I sense this will describe your life during the next six weeks. Your long, strange journey won't come to an end, of course. But a key chapter in that long, strange journey will climax. You will be mostly finished with lessons you have been studying for many moons. The winding road you have been following will end up someplace in particular. And sometime soon, I suspect you'll spy a foreshadowing flash of this denouement.

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LOSING WHAT'S NO GOOD FOR YOU

A psychic once told me that my first name "Rob" is an apt description of my spiritual function. "You're here on earth to rob people of their godawful belief that life is a miserable ordeal," she advised me. "Your job is to steal away the habits that sap their life energy; to rip off the sorry dogmas that blind them to the wondrous feats their imaginations are capable of."

I don't know if I have fully earned that glowing promise, but I aspire to do so.

If you ever want more information and inspiration generated in this spirit -- beyond the horoscopes you're reading here -- keep in mind that every week I also offer EXPANDED AUDIO HOROSCOPES for you. They're four-to-five-minute meditations on the current state of your destiny.

To listen to your Expanded Audio Horoscope online, go to https://RealAstrology.com

Register and/or log in through the main page.

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The cost is $6 per sign online. (Discounts are available for bulk purchases.)

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"I almost always come away from listening to your audio horoscopes with greater clarity about what's best for me to give my attention to next."

—Jada Washington, New York

"I love how your audio horoscopes stimulate my idealism and also help me think about the practical actions I can take to support my idealism."

—Rita Mashner, Tampa

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): According to my understanding of the upcoming weeks, life will present you with unusual opportunities. I suspect you will find it reasonable and righteous to shed, dismantle, and rebel against the past. Redefining your history will be a fun and worthy project. Here are other related activities I recommend for you: 1. Forget and renounce a long-running fear that has never come true. 2. Throw away a reminder of an old experience that makes you feel bad. 3. Freshen your mood and attitude by moving around the furniture and decor in your home. 4. Write a note of atonement to a person you hurt once upon a time. 5. Give yourself a new nickname that inspires you to emancipate yourself from a pattern or habit you want to leave behind.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Taurus poet Donte Collins' preferred pronouns are "they" and "them." They describe themself as Black, queer, and adopted. "A lover doesn't discourage your growth," they write. "A lover says, 'I see who you are today, and I cannot wait to see who you become tomorrow.'" I hope you have people like that in your life, Taurus—lovers, friends, allies, and relatives. If there is a scarcity of such beloved companions in your life, the next eight weeks will be an excellent time to round up new ones. And if you are connected with people who delight in your progress and evolution, deepen your connection with them.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Gemini author Lisa Cron advises her fellow writers, "Avoid exclamation points! Really!! Because they’re distracting!! Almost as much as CAPITALIZING THINGS!!!" I'll expand her counsel to apply not just to writers, but to all of you Geminis. In my astrological opinion, you're likely to find success in the coming weeks if you're understated, modest, and unmelodramatic. Make it your goal to create smooth, suave, savvy solutions. Be cagey and cool and crafty.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu told us that water is in one sense soft and passive, but is in another sense superb at eroding jams and obstacles that are hard and firm. There's a magic in the way its apparent weakness overcomes what seems strong and unassailable. You are one of the zodiac's top wielders of water's superpower, Cancerian. And in the coming weeks, it will work for you with even more amazing grace than usual. Take full advantage of your sensitivity, your emotional intelligence, and your empathy.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Leo author James Baldwin told us, "You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to [Russian novelist] Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is a great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone." In that spirit, Leo, and in accordance with astrological omens, I urge you to track down people who have had pivotal experiences similar to yours, either in the distant or recent past. These days, you need the consoling companionship they can provide. Their influence could be key to liberating you from at least some of your pain.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Poet Octavio Paz described two kinds of distraction. One is "the distraction of the person who is always outside himself, lost in the trivial, senseless, turmoil of everyday life." The other is "the distraction of the person who withdraws from the world in order to shut himself up in the secret and ever-changing land of his fantasy." In my astrological opinion, you Virgos should specialize in the latter during the coming weeks. It's time to reinvigorate your relationship with your deep inner sources. Go in search of the reverent joy that comes from communing with your tantalizing mysteries. Explore the riddles at the core of your destiny.

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Homework: What subject are you trying to avoid thinking about? https://Newsletter.FreeWillAstrology.com

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NEED TO CHANGE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS?

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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.

Requests for anonymity will be honored. We are not responsible for unsolicited submission of any creative material.

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

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