Back in the Game, Thanks to Bob Brezsny: Master Healer, Subversive Stargazer, All-Around Friend of Mine!

Bob giving $5 bills to passing strangers in an act of ‘reverse panhandling’

In 1997, renown astrologer Bob Brezsny invited his followers to mail him a symbol of their most exquisite pain. 900+ fans responded with everything from Dear-John letters to bottles of whisky. When he immolated their contributions in a beachside bonfire, many reported that it expunged their wounds.

We all have psychological wounds, sometimes more than we’d like to admit. I’d stopped blogging, writing, and did nothing but work. If I’d sent Bob a symbol of my pain three months ago, my contribution might have looked something like Rose Simpson’s 2016 self-portrait:

Rose’s 2016 Self Portrait
Rose Simpson, Native American artist
Very bad taxidermy from England

Or maybe something like the very bad taxidermy shown on the right. To put it bluntly, my edges weren’t coming together too well, my eyes were a bit crazed, and my morning runs a bit stiff-legged.

Bob’s reminders that I was going through a very natural withdrawal from astrological symptoms, and his suggestions for action, brought me out of my doldrums. Recently, Pluto went out of retrograde, lightening the burdens of the Aries-born. I’m not sure why it helps, but it’s been a long three-months of murkiness and the light is coming through.

As one of Brezsny’s fans says, “When Brezsny asks Cancerian men to wear veils on International Women’s Day or proposes “brag therapy” weeks for Leos, he’s really challenging readers to subvert the assumptions that govern their lives more firmly than any stars.” It’s not the astrology, it’s the insights – and the fun!

West African skin-covered head from the Smithsonia
Hunter self-portrait after Smithsonian head

Bob’s been challenging my assumptions for years, and I consider him a true friend in the struggle to be human. To give you an idea of why, here’s a paraphrase of his Aries prognosis for the coming week:

“Life will present you with unusual opportunities. 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. I recommend that 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.”

I’m on it, Bob! I’ve done everything on your list but the last. I’ve never had a nickname, but I do have a way better picture of myself to share:

Lori Gottlieb reminds us that we all have pain, but the amount of the suffering we have is up to us. A poem from the Subversive Stargazer’s site:

Therefore, dark past,
I’m about to do it.
I’m about to forgive you
for everything.

—Mary Oliver

I’m working on the nickname, I promise!

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