Rob Brezsny is a poet of the stars, a Jungian astrologist guiding us to see the archetypal patterns so that we can intuit how we’re connected to all things. In his long-running “Free Will Astrology” column, he offers an alternative to the proscriptive pronouncements more common in such projects, proposing instead that readers open themselves to inner and outer forces so that they can choose how best to react. It’s a yin-yang approach, Trickster and Hangman, Jupiter and Mars, one that sees intuition as true vision. Ultimately, Brezsny’s universe is one composed in free verse, the lines between the stars leading us to know what to say next.
steven lee beeber: Speaking of collective death hanging over us, we’re in the Trump era. How might a pronoiac approach help us understand Trump’s rise and formulate positive responses to it?
rob brezsny: The question you ask is great. One thing that comes to mind is the essential role in mythology of the trickster. The trickster is a crucial element in mythological systems of virtually all indigenous cultures. In many cultures, the trickster is the creator. The trickster can be a bad trickster or a good trickster, or even both. I think there’s a way in which we might conceive of Donald Trump as the ultimate bad trickster who nevertheless generates all sorts of interesting, possibly regenerative consequences through the chaos that he creates, the mess he makes. That’s the pronoiac vision. The evil trickster—the dumb, narcissistic, affluent, materialistic trickster—might unleash creative forces that will ultimately turn out to be regenerative for the entire culture. That’s the vision that I hold.
conduit: A kind of creative resistance.
brezsny: But not just resistance. A kind of rising up of creative forces that initially resist but also invent new forms, new ways of shaping civilization. Who knows if the Republican and Democratic parties will survive Donald Trump? It’s conceivable that both will collapse in some way. Maybe a new party will come out of it.
conduit: Would you say that there’s a relationship between intuition, prediction, and what you do as a free will astrologer?
brezsny: I think there’s an important distinction between fearful fantasies and true intuition, and it can be pretty hard to distinguish those, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if those intuitions welling up in me are tainted primarily with fear, they’re not real intuitions. They’re superstitious, monkey-mind machinations that are actually distracting me from true intuition. So, since so much astrology predicts fear, or predicts events that stimulate fear, I don’t regard a lot of astrology as useful in helping us hone into our intuition. I like to think of what I do—in a somewhat ironic way—as more predicting the present rather than the future. What that means is that I aspire to tune into the archetypal forces that are at work in us at a particular moment and demonstrate the various ways those archetypal forces might respond to our conscious intent and be shaped by our conscious intent. Those archetypal forces don’t mandate a particular outcome; they suggest various possibilities that we can collaborate with and choose as the most uplifting, not only for ourselves but for the people in our lives and humanity.
conduit: When you mention fear being a sign that your intuitions are not trustworthy, I’m reminded of Gerd Gigerenzer, who wrote Gut Feelings, a major inspiration for Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. Like him, it sounds like you’re saying that intuition is basically your unconscious or half-conscious mind processing lots of information so as to direct your decision-making without your being aware of it. Since your mind is helping you make the correct choice, if it’s true intuition, it’s a positive force.
brezsny: I’m reminded of how Nancy Reagan had an astrologer who she consulted throughout Ronald’s term. But the question that she always posed to the astrologer was, “How can we shape the archetypal forces at work so as to best reflect Ronald Reagan, and to show him in the best light?” Her question was not, “How can we shape the archetypal forces to best serve the country?” So positive can have different meanings. Intuition, in my understanding, is not just something that comes from inside, it comes from the other, it comes from the other intelligences out there, and that’s another reason to listen so well and to be receptive to all of creation, not just that part that seems to come from inside. I think, if you’re listening, the world is always communicating to you useful information to help you animate and activate the archetypal forces in a way that is most positive.