Monday, October 13, 2008

The Secret Vs. My Use of Astrology (Or Why The Secret Doesn’t Do it For Me)

In honour of Pluto going through the last degrees of Sagittarius (breaking down and transforming our belief systems and ideologies as it goes), I am reposting an old article on a subject near and dear to my heart...

So, The Secret. Hmm…

People really seem to love it, don’t they? It hit the big time. Spread like wildfire. It’s been on Oprah. Many New Age-y people seem to find that it hits the spot. They love it. Eat it up. Espouse it’s merits and talk about it to anyone who will listen. People are being trained as “Belief Repatterning Practitioners” in order to use its teachings on the general public. It’s pretty much everywhere, and people are basing their entire philosophies, their businesses, their entire ways of living, on it.

For those who don’t know, The Secret is a book (later made into a movie) talking about the Law of Attraction. The basic premise is that everything experienced in the life of a human being is something he/she has attracted into his/her life. Like attracts like. So positive thoughts attract positive events/things. Negative thoughts attract negative events/things. “We create our own reality” is the constant refrain. If we are attracting circumstances into our lives that we do not want, The Secret says, it is because we have limiting negative beliefs (that need to be “repatterned” by those Belief Repatterning people).

The Secret focuses quite a lot on "material abundance." We live in an endlessly abundant Universe, it says, and if we can visualize it, we can have it. A new car, a new home, a diamond ring, a wonderful mate - all these things can be our’s, almost instantly, if we think positively, believe we can have them and visualize them into being.

Now, I do understand the power of positive thinking and creative visualization. (So do all those positive thinking gurus from the 60s, by the way - this is not new information.) And, on a basic level, I agree that we have some role in creating the realities in which we live. It’s not so much the basic ideas The Secret is putting forth that I have a problem with, it’s the blanket applications of those ideas and the leaps in logic that so often seem to come with. There are a lot of blind spots I can see regarding how this ideology is being applied, which I will attempt to explain in this post.

I understand the Law of Attraction in theory, but this single (supposed) law is not the only law at work in our lives. The explanation that our negative and limiting beliefs are the only things keeping us from the exact lives we want is far too simplistic to me.

When I delve into my problems with this message and its application, I realize it is just not fitting with my use of astrology.

The major difference between the two is that with The Secret, what a human being wants (along with the ability to positively visualize this want into existence) is the most powerful force in his or her life. Seemingly, the only reason one would not get what one wants is that the person has "negative, limiting beliefs" holding him or herself back. (And this can possibly be remedied with Belief Repatterning Sessions.)

Using my version of astrology, the broader, soul-driven desire for a human being (connected to the situation on the planet) trumps individual, personality-related will almost every time.

My understanding of astrology works with the idea that there are specific imperatives involved in our existences, reasons for being born at the time and place that we did, specific things we are meant to do during our lifetimes and certain directions we are meant to take - and much of this we may not be 100% consciously aware of at all times. These experiences can take a number of different forms, but the themes remain pretty much the same. There are certain things we need to learn and master, certain things we need to move on from, and certain things we need to steer away from altogether. There are certain marks we need to hit. Some individuals have quite a lot of leeway (or free will) in their lives, and others have less because their life experiences must be very specific.

Within this framework, what a person wants on a conscious, personal level is not always in alignment with the broader, soul-level bird's eye view, and when it isn’t, it appears that the person is not getting what he or she wants. Rather than holding him or herself back with "limiting beliefs," the person is simply not meant to have that particular want fulfilled at that particular time. (Didn't we all learn delayed gratification when we were two years old? Maybe not.) Unfulfilled wants are most often purposeful, not simply the "fault" of the person’s limited and negative beliefs/thoughts. The broader, soul-level imperative (Pluto) is not in alignment with conscious, personal desire (Mars) at that time, and the process of “not getting what you want” is often instrumental in bringing those two things closer together - what the sign Scorpio is primarily about. I want only what is right and in my best interests within the entire context of my life on the planet.

I see this concept illustrated in the birth chart.

One example is the Moon’s Nodes. There is a North Node and a South Node in every chart. The North Node represents the path to be taken on and mastered in the lifetime. It is new and uncharted territory that can feel quite foreign and uncomfortable, but this is where the energy lies, so this is what the person must develop in order to achieve soul-level success.

The South Node relates to an area that the person has already mastered to a certain extent. It feels comfortable and familiar and is where the person often feels that his or her glory lies. But this is an area where the person can’t hang out too much. There is no glory to be relived by staying in the South Node and no new energy there, only karmic loops trying to kick the person out onto the North Node path. (There are some exceptions to this, but this is the basic concept.)

The point is that people don’t always want to take the path that is the most beneficial for them on a soul level. They don’t want to venture out of old territory and into new. The challenges that lie there aren’t things they would necessarily desire from an egoic perspective, but they are desired on an broader level related to soul-driven achievement.

Another example is Saturn. Saturn is not considered the most fun or desirable planet. It relates to an area where we take on difficult challenges - challenges that take a great deal of time and effort and skill-building. Saturn points out an area where we need to mature, grow the hell up, and get serious. An area that we need to structure and plan carefully. For illustration sake, think about your Dad standing over you making sure you study for your Grade Six final math exam when all you want to do is go outside and play. That’s Saturn. It’s something you do because it’s “for your own good.” And it (along with the Nodes) is an area that often has fear and discomfort attached. Again, this is not an area that a person would necessarily WANT to take on. It’s scary and challenging, sometimes to the extreme. But it’s something a person NEEDS to take on, for the sake of his or her personal development, not to mention broader sociological/socio-political development.

People might not understand why they aren’t getting that new car they're visualizing or that awesome new mate. The Secret would suggest they are just not believing they can have it hard enough and that they only need to change their negative beliefs, and it can be their's. But to me, this ventures into the territory of solipsism - the idea that we exist in our own little bubbles, not affected by those realities around us. It loses an element of purpose and energetic connection with people of all walks of life, not to mention any concept of a larger context for our individual lives.

An example of the context of which I’m speaking of is this: What about culture shaping our desires? What do people want in 2008 in consumer capitalist North America and why? And are all desires completely justified? Is it in the best interests of ourselves or of the planet that we all have exactly what we want when we want it? Who and what taught us to want those things? Where are the roots of our personal desires?

Personally, I don’t want to live in a world of consumer capitalists hell-bent on instant gratification who have figured out how to have exactly what they want, when they want it. I’m pretty sure we would need a few more planets if that were to happen, considering the level of excess we have been taught we deserve to have by the Market Gods.

Another example of missing context, in my opinion, is already existing power and control structures, reinforced for millenia, that people are born into. The Secret would have us believe we are all born into a completely clean slate and that it is nothing but our negative beliefs keeping us from have our every desire fulfilled. The entire discipline of sociology, especially as it relates to social stratification, would say otherwise. People are born into a broader cultural and planetary context, and that includes unjust power structures along class, sex, race, spiritual inclination, sexual preference and any number of other lines.

The real question to me that people seem to be missing is why these power and control structures are being created and why they are systemically supported and reinforced? Why are some people living overprivileged lives and others living underprivileged? Why are some living with extreme excess and others living with horrible deprivation? Why the imbalances, and how are they related? And why is none of this addressed in The Secret?

If we sever ourselves from that energetic connection (that my life might have something to do with your life and vice versa), we start to look at things in an extremely individualistic and, again, solipsistic, way. We lose sense of any responsibility to our fellow human being and it’s just another race to the material manifestation (or spiritual materialist) finish line. At that point, you can disconnect yourself from the suffering of others on the planet because they are “creating their own reality” and you are creating your’s. We can blame other people (and ourselves) for negative experiences/circumstances and turn a blind eye to the other forces at work in their creation.

Of course there is a level of individual responsibility that must be taken regarding life's cirumstances. But let's not take that individuality to an extreme. Let's not make it the only aspect of reality.

And let's not pretend that the reality that one person "creates" doesn't affect the realities of others, especially when that person holds a great deal of wealth, political connection and power. George Bush, Jr.'s reality of "terror against America," for example, has affected the realities of everyone on this planet. Let's not turn a blind eye to the fact that systemic realities, reinforced through ideology and mass belief systems, affect the reality of each individual greatly.

So many times, I’ve heard from people espousing this theory: “That isn’t in my reality.” The judgement goes that once you reach a certain level of “enlightenment” (IE. that person’s level), you will no longer experience anything “negative” or upsetting at all.

This isn’t how life on Earth actually exists. Positive and negative are charges that co-exist in nature. They're yin and yang. You can’t get rid of negative by denying it exists in “your reality.”

The idea that positive creates more positive and more positive and more positive, and that anyone experiencing a “negative” situation is simply bringing it on him or herself is simply not true. Positive and negative seek to create balance, neutralizing the excesses of both. To me, opposites attract more often than like attracting like. So people who insist on experiencing only “positive” are actually creating a by-product of excessive “negative” for someone else to experience - usually someone with a "can't deny reality" signature like a strong Pluto or a lot of Scorpio.

Again, energetic connection of realities. My choices affect your choices and vice versa. As long as some people refuse to look at the supposedly "dark and negative" realities of human experience and explain them away with all sorts of justifications, they are leaving a disproportionate amount of that awareness to be carried by those who cannot refuse their existence.

As long as we look the other way and pretend things like poverty, classism, racism, sexism, abuse of power, violence, etc. etc. do not exist in “our dimension,” or that people are creating these realities strictly on a personal level through “negative, limiting beliefs,” it leaves those aspects of life free to come out in ever more excessive, disturbing and unconscious ways.

I think the use of radioactive weapons is a perfect example of how the choices or "realities" of the few affect us all, whether we want to admit it.

We have to look at this stuff directly, address it directly. There is nowhere to transcend to - it’s all right here, right in front of us, asking for us to take notice.

In 2008, there are too many manufactured wants being created by consumer capitalism and not enough responsibility being taken for what is desired/created - not to mention, often, an absence of spiritual discipline and understanding to guide the manifestation process. To me, the world The Secret is attempting to create is not one I desire to inhabit.

So maybe you aren’t getting that ocean-view bungalow in Hawaii that you’re attempting to manifest. But you know what? Maybe the world doesn’t need another person isolated in the wilds of Hawaii, lost in meditation. Maybe the world needs you right where you are, doing what you’re doing.


Josten Aka Jobie said...

We all have to decide with ourselves what are we willing to give in return for what we desire that is the thing most people do not use in applying the principles. its common sense

Donna B. said...

You are a deep thinker, Willow. I think "The Secret" type mentality is essential for people who are depressed, hopeless, or down on their luck. Otherwise, what can keep them going, so that they can experience soul growth in this lifetime, rather than choosing to end their lives. Sometimes, the lessons for the soul need a counter-balancing sugar pill in order for us to be able to endure them. It may cause us to evolve more slowly, but it is better than no growth at all. You cannot possibly know how hard it is for everyone on this planet to live without a little splash of fairy dust in their lives to help them just make it through another day. Don't forget that Neptune is in our birthcharts too, and does serve a useful role. Denial and illusion help the world go round. Don't knock it for the millions who would otherwise not even be here anymore!

Willow said...

You're entitled to your opinion, but I don't agree. I think living in a state of delusion actually exacerbates the problems of overwhelming depression. The deluded highs lead to the extreme lows.

People are entitled to live as they please, but living in a Neptunian fantasy world is not what is required at this time. The Piscean Age is over...although, many people continue to cling to this way of living.

Those of us who see through it will continue to try to put people on a different track.

Willow said...

Not to mention that I think The Secret mentality actually makes people blame themselves for their circumstances, turning anger inward that should be directed in other, more constructive ways.

So I don't look at The Secret and similar phenomena as harmless to the population.

Donna B. said...

Neptune rules, not only illusion and denial, but also faith. You may say that the Age of Pisces, the Age of Faith is behind us, but faith, Neptune in it highest expression is never out-of-date, and never a mistake. For faith is what keeps the meek, the dispossessed, the downtrodden going. (read "Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and you'll get what I'm trying to say) Sooner or later, everyone needs it. I see life as a process which involves ALL the planets, interacting more or less in each of our lives; each representing a valuable psychological component of what it means to be human.
Who can say what is delusion and what is tremendous faith? Who is the final judge in determining what is reality? Perhaps, for now, you choose to believe in a reality where faith is delusion, fantasy. Perhaps this is why you cannot manifest what you desire. Because you don't believe you can; because at the heart of your being, you believe in scarcity, lack, or unworthiness. I'm just suggesting this because you seem so negative about the possibility of manifesting one's dreams.
It can happen, Willow. Why it works for some and not others, one can only imagine. But perhaps experiencing enough disappointments in this area is just what a person needs to clarify what it is he really wants. When what you say you want is what your soul actually wants, I think nothing can prevent its manifestation.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Willow,

Love your blog. Tried to get a reading but your paypal won't accept my cc. Possibly because I live in a territory of the US, Puerto Rico which is not on the list of states or countries. You might want to fix that or not.

PS. Your new agers post was hilarious and 100% accurate. I wasn't as lucky as you and worked with them for six years. I'm still detoxing!!

Willow said...

Ack, sorry, Anon. Don't know why that is not working. Do you have a PayPal account/balance to pay from?

Otherwise, I accept money orders in Canadian funds, payable in Canada. You an email me about that.

Yes, I just got re-poisoned by a very sneaky New Ager and his crew. That's why I have a zero tolerance for it. So insidious and so sickening!

Gabby said...

Hey Willow! I like your examination of the Secret/Law of Attraction. I just watched the film version of The Secret a couple days ago and wrote a blog entry critical of it as well.

I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with using the law of attraction (I assume it works in a similar way as prayer does, but generally in prayer the person making their request is at least humble enough to ask for their prayers to be answered only if they are what is best for them). I have been personally amazed at what prayer can do, but I also always try to ask that my prayers be answered only if they are best for both me and the world. I'm also not asking for Porsches and diamond rings. ;)

I think it's sad too that people are made to feel that when things are not working out for them it is because they are unconsciously causing these bad things to happen. In prayer I think there is an easy solution to this: "Universe please disregard any self-undoing thoughts I may be having consciously or subconsciously."

On the other hand, there is some obvious truth in "negative mindset" bringing about negative experiences. I am technically living in poverty, but I have more than adequate food and shelter, I have cable TV and internet. It's easy for me sometimes to think that I am poor or in lack... and when I do that, lack is what I experience. Our perception is our reality, and when we think negatively we do draw in negativity. Greedy people who might be attracting loads of money are also usually attracting lawsuits and sycophants who want to take their money, for instance. People who fear having lovers who are cheaters seem to attract, um, lovers who are cheaters. ? Not always, but these sorts of things happen often enough.

What I think about it is that if the law of attraction means that we can create any world we want, if our minds really have that power, then why devote all of that energy toward acquiring money, mansions, etc.?

p.s. I think your stories about getting caught up with new-agers are funny. Where is Pluto transiting in your chart? Mine is in the 11th House and I have had a similar experience with leftist political activists. I am very leftist, but I also like to be able to use my own brain, and to express an individual opinion that may veer from the "groupthink" every now and then. Oddly I've found that kind of acceptance more in communion with spiritual "new-agey" people. At least so far. :P

Anonymous said...

I read your post just now and totally agree with you. There are many inconsistencies in the 'secret' theory.
For instance, what about babies or little children facing bad situations like abuse or illness, did they bring that to themselves by negative limiting beliefs?

To me the "secret" ideology reminds me the movie stepford wives or being like a ostrich putting his head into ground to hide the reality.

I also have a problem with the wrong interpretation of karma, saying that you get bad stuff because you deserved that in a past life.

To me your interpretation of astrology and why we are on this earth is the most logical one.