If you want to perform Real Magic (which starts with the correct attitude) then study this in-depth article by my guest blogger, the US astrologer/magician Bob Makransky:

One of my pet peeves about New Agers is their naive reliance on grossly oversimplified homilies like the famous Law of Attraction (“Ask – Believe -Receive”) to get whatever one wants from life. While there is some truth to the Law of Attraction, it doesn’t work at all the way its devotees claim it does; moreover their pie-in-the-sky, fluffy thinking misleads people by sidetracking them from making the decisions and taking the actions which really would lead them to happiness. This can only come from Real Magic.

We’ll get to this later: for now we’ll merely point out that the most important component of this supposedly “secret” Law of Attraction isn’t mentioned in Rhonda Byrne’s bestselling book, The Secret at all, namely Ask – Believe – Have a Terrifically Favorable Horoscope – Receive. Because having a terrifically favorable horoscope is the Real Secret to making the Law of Attraction work (of course, the Law of Attraction also works for people with horribly afflicted horoscopes, but in that case what is attracted are horrible afflictions, no matter how much “positive thinking” the person does).


Rhonda Byrne ‘Midnight Chart’

Case in point: the natal horoscope of Rhonda Byrne, authoress of The Secret, which is redolent of trines and sextiles, with a dearth of unfavorable aspects (only one opposition, which is between favorable planets and hence not at all unfavorable; and nary a square to be seen anywhere in the chart). Perhaps for people like Rhonda, who are born into extremely lucky karmic conditions, all one has to do is think happy thoughts and the universe just spews forth whatever they want. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to work that way for the average person. Moreover, people who are born with easy karma tend to look down their noses at the rest of us, believing we are losers because we have a bad attitude. But the only difference between us and them is dumb luck (just as rich people tend to have a “let them eat cake” attitude about poor people, believing that they are lazy and irresponsible rather than unfortunate by birth). As Nero Wolfe put it, we are all much vainer of our luck than of our merits.

Very little biographical information on Rhonda Byrne is available online – even her birth-time is unknown (the chart used here was calculated for midnight). She was a successful TV producer, and after her father died, she experienced depression which was alleviated when her daughter turned her on to a positive thinking book, which gave her the idea for a movie, and then a book about the so-called Secret. The Bowl-type chart (all planets contained within half the wheel) indicates a very self-contained person, honorable with the highest standards and ideals. The chief configuration in Rhonda Byrne’s horoscope is the Wedge of moon opposition Jupiter-Neptune, in trine-sextile to Pluto. Wedges (180°-120°-60°) – like the other trine-based configurations (Grand Trine = 120°-120°-120° and Fan = 120°-60°-60°) – are highly favorable for getting what one wants from life.

Where Wedges differ from the Grand Trine and Fan types is in their thoughtfulness, objectivity, and need to get an intellectual perspective on their lives. The opposition aspect endows the Wedge natives with a higher degree of awareness – of their own motivations and of other people’s feelings – than that possessed by the solipsistic, self-obsessed Fans or the lofty, above-it-all Grand Trines, both of which tend to be rather blasé and inclined to take things (and other people) for granted.

As I say in my book Planetary Combination, Wedges are confident, cool, and cheeky, with a facility for making themselves right at home wherever they find themselves. They are frank, simple, candid (outspoken), and above board; with a simple practicality. Everything comes easily to them. They are cocky (also blunt and bluff), and – like all triangular types – smug and self-satisfied. Brisk, efficient, and jaunty, they don’t take things to heart, but breeze over difficulties (and other people); and don’t permit circumstances (or people) get to them or knock them off their pins. They are never disconcerted, but take things in their stride. They are nonplussed by conflict and subtlety, and have an urge to simplify and be out front; but as a result they can be annoyingly unbothered and unreachable. They prefer to slither around obstacles rather than dig in their heels and confront them directly; they take a realistic and sensible approach to problems and conflicts (indicated by the mediating planet – in this case Pluto, which indicates that the source of the native’s conviction – what she relies on – is a staunch, obsessive, single-mindedness).

All Wedge natives are attentive and reflective (rather than off on their own tangents or above-it-all); and they have an idiosyncratic philosophy and a highly original vision and point of view. Beneath the surface they have a wild, maverick streak; and a cynical or ironic opinion of their fellow bipeds; and they can be rather taken with their own cleverness and perspicacity – which on the negative side can make them feel superior (which is a character flaw of all the trine configurations). They possess a characteristic forte – a winning quality on which they can always rely to finesse around other people and get their own way – which helps them to get by with a minimum of effort on their part; and this ability is symbolized by the mediating planet (Pluto – gumption, determination, and never-say-die obsessiveness; which gets its own way by wearing other people down, or else by wiping the slate clean and beginning all over again from zero – as Rhonda apparently did to conquer her depression).

Jupiter conjunct Neptune is the quintessential aspect of the positive thinker, combining high altruism with down-to-earth practicality (e.g. Augustus Caesar, Benjamin Disraeli; also romantics such as Omar Khayyam, Percy Bysshe Shelley, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, Sir Lawrence Olivier, John Barrymore, Federico Fellini, and the Duke of Windsor, who gave up a throne for the woman he loved). Per my own book Planetary Combination, Jupiter conjunct Neptune people “possess delicate sensibilities and a dislike for any sort of conflict or unpleasantness. You wear your heart on your sleeve and are rather vulnerable and easily moved. Because you are incapable of subtlety or guile yourself, you possess a naive hopefulness regarding the motives of other people which at times permits the unscrupulous to take advantage of you. For better or worse you have an idealized image of how things ought to be which doesn’t always correspond to how things actually are.”

Natal moon opposition this Jupiter-Neptune conjunction does nothing to alleviate the native’s credulousness and other-worldliness (as astrologer Charles Carter put it, “the tendency to resort to spiritualistic practices is common”, as well as “a tendency to intrigue, and to seek short-cuts and get-rich-quick methods”).

Rhonda’s chart also contains a Close Pairs configuration – three or more clusters (conjunctions) containing a total of six or more planets – here Jupiter conjunct Neptune, sun inferior conjunction Mercury, Venus conjunct Saturn, and Mars conjunct Uranus. As I say in Planetary Combination, “Close Pairs reveals a heady freedom of spirit, with a roll-up-your-sleeves, ‘can-do’ attitude. You are spontaneous and unfettered: you talk off the cuff and shoot from the hip (and are quick on the trigger). You are unvarnished and plain-spoken, authentic and real. You’re not afraid to call a spade a spade, and you can be quite bluff, blunt, and jarring when speaking your mind. Your indelicacy would tend to get you into trouble were it not for your ability to brazenly stare down and intimidate any would-be adversary. You are very clear mentally and are not fooled by appearances: you can see through (and have little tolerance for) hypocrisy and baloney: you get down to brass tacks with little ado or pother (steam-roll over other people). You are completely centered in the now moment – good at taking things as they present themselves, and of making the best use of whatever is available. You are resourceful, flexible, a survivor; like a cat, you always land on your feet. Close Pairs makes for good engineers, programmers, doctors, lawyers, etc. because of their practical, inventive, problem-solving minds.”


Rhonda Byrne Chart ‘progressed’ to publication of ‘The Secret’

Rhonda’s approximate chart progressed to the publication date of The Secret shows an exact sextile between progressed and natal suns, which in astrologer Alan Leo’s purview (in The Progressed Horoscope) “brings good fortune through superiors, the great^and those in authority (n.b., Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of The Secret sent it skyrocketing)… Irksome cases there follows some amount of public recognition, honor, or fame.” Progressed sun sextile its natal place, which occurs in everyone’s lives at about age 60, often indicates a new, positive direction in the life (or sudden success / recognition for work done over many years previously). Also on the publication date transiting Neptune was trine natal Uranus, Saturn was conjunct natal Mercury (the two planets are semi-sextile in the natal chart, so this isn’t so terrible for the publication of a book); and Jupiter was trine Venus (money and happiness).

Progressed Saturn had moved to the exact position of natal Venus (which it conjoined in the natal chart) several years previously, which perhaps indicated the death of her father; and progressed Mars conjoined this point the year after The Secret was published (2007), which might have caused some serious problems / conflicts / unhappiness / disappointments in intimate or family relationships in 2007.1 have no idea what happened to Rhonda then, but Venus conjunct Saturn in the natal chart is the only affliction in Rhonda’s horoscope, indicating a defensiveness, fear of intimacy, closing up like a clam and stonewalling anyone who has the temerity to approach her with an offer of love. Intimates must handle these natives with extreme patience and tact – they’re kind of like porcupines. On the positive side, this aspect makes its natives steadfast and punctilious (albeit cold and callous) in observing the formalities of relationship – no one can ever accuse them of not fulfilling their obligations. The natal conjunction is in Cancer, which strengthens Venus and debilitates Saturn, so this somewhat ameliorates the negative effects of Venus conjunct Saturn. I wonder if she was able to Ask – Believe – Receive her way out of whatever befell her in 2007.

Every book on astrological prediction that I have ever read says that the transits and progressions can’t bring about anything which is not shown in the natal horoscope. So, for example, if you have a severely afflicted natal Venus, ruler of the 7th house (as I have), maybe you should just forget all about ever having a happy, satisfying marriage (as I should have done – it would have saved me much grief and many wasted years). Or, if your 2nd house and its ruler are badly afflicted (as mine are), then you’re always going to be living on the verge of money crisis, and maybe should just try to accept that one and live with it (as I’ve been forced to do, having learned of necessity to just shrug my shoulders rather than stress out about it), instead of wasting your time on Ask – Believe fantasies which you will never, ever Receive. It’s called growing up, taking responsibility for your karma, instead of trying to run away from it in fantasies and daydreaming (as most people try to do).

Real Magic – It Starts with the Correct Attitude

I have a good friend who, in Rhonda-like fashion, chides me for what she calls my “negative attitude” in passively accepting my money problems and knowing that nothing will change them. Of course, money flows easily to her (terrific 2nd house; she’s got wealthy parents who bail her out whenever she needs it). On the other hand, she has a badly afflicted 7th house, and she’s always running to me with the latest “true love” she has found to compare horoscopes and tell her that her dreams will come true. Naturally, with that 7th house of hers, the “true loves'” charts invariably conflict with hers – but what can I tell her, since that’s not what she wants to hear? I’d like to say, “Listen, you are never going to have a happy partnership; so why don’t you just forget that one and try to find some meaning and peace in being alone?” She’s smart, and probably by the time she reaches my age she’ll have accepted that destiny, just as I have (i.e., realized that I actually prefer solitude to dealing with other people’s issues: I have my natal full moon conjunct IC – that is to say, I m basically a loner; and my fantasies of finding/true love” most of my life were just that – fantasies; not what I really wanted in my heart of hearts.)

The trouble with expectation is that as long as you are waiting for, or depending upon, some external event happening (money or success or “true love” or whatever) in order to be happy, then you won’t ever be happy. Is this not logical? You just keep pushing your happiness away into some future which will never come, particularly if your karma, as depicted in your horoscope, forbids it. Happiness can only come when you stop looking to some future for it, and start trying to find it in what’s going on in your everyday life right now (i.e. focus your energy and attention on the well-aspected planets and houses in your horoscope instead of on the afflicted ones – i.e. on those areas of your life in which if you ask and believe, you will receive). Again, this is Real Magic.

Read your horoscope objectively and it’ll tell you where you should stop obsessing over what you lack (the afflictions), and start appreciating and giving thanks for your blessings (the good stuff – maybe start by looking at the aspects and house position of the moon’s north node, which is where your blessings come from). People (myself included) just don’t want to see what their horoscopes are really saying, but rather project their own wishful thinking onto the chart in order to fool themselves into believing that a sow’s ear will magically turn into a silken purse.

Real Magic and Happiness – Faith and Letting Go

True happiness doesn’t depend upon the fulfilment of your expectations; fulfilment of your expectations just leads to a never-ending treadmill of more and more expectations. Have you noticed that rich people never have enough money? They need more and more and it’s never enough. Rather, true happiness means not taking the things that happen personally; being able to take setbacks in stride and to deal with problems as they arise so you don’t stress out so much about the future, knowing that you will be able to deal with it when it comes.

True happiness is an everyday mind-set of eager anticipation (not eager expectation) – i.e. knowing full well that everything is okay, and problems will work out okay. This, actually, is one of the secrets to Real Magic: an attitude of faith. (Which, again, is different from expecting things.) And this usually will come about by itself, if not now then in old age, when all your expectations have crashed and you no longer give a damn about all the will-o-the-wisps you pursued in youth!

That’s what happened to me – I finally quit stressing out over my tight money choke-chain when I saw that no matter what I did wouldn’t change anything (for long): any time I got a little money ahead, some unexpected bolt from the blue would wipe it out. And in any case I always had enough money to barely squeak by; so why get into a tizzy about it? This, again, is called faith – faith that whatever is happening is happening for a reason. How else can you learn that lesson except through the crash of all your expectations?

Real happiness is not something you can pursue, or something that “God” bestows on you (except perhaps temporarily, as spiritual epiphanies are always temporary). Rather, true happiness is something you feel right now (no matter what is going on outside you); or else you don’t. If you are pursuing happiness, imagining a future of unearned happiness just dropping down from heaven, then you’re in denial, lying to yourself, chasing a mirage that evaporates as you approach it.

Finding true happiness involves losing your expectations – of wealth, success, “love”, heaven – whether because of voluntary renunciation or (more likely) because your expectations have crashed and crashed and crashed until you can no longer fool yourself that “God” is going to bend the universe out of shape to bow down to you and serve you. And when you’ve “hit rock bottom”, and you are no longer striving for love or wealth or success or some other future which never comes, you will no longer feel that you have everything all figured out and that some simplistic formula such as “Ask – Believe – Receive” is going to bring you your fondest fantasies. Letting go in this way is, believe it or not, the real magic.

Then, as you go along things spin more and more out of control; everything you’ve been striving for is stripped away from you; the “future” dissolves; and all you’re left holding onto is the now moment. And you’re okay with that. Embrace the Now moment and you will find a subtle shift in your life. You’ll stop striving so hard, too. But your circumstances will change for the better. There – that’s the Real Secret. Because it’s Real Magic.

About the author: Bob Makransky’s textbooks Planetary Strength and Planetary Combination are available from the Wessex Astrologer. His essay collection Topics in Astrology is available here

And check out more of Bob’s work in Watkins Magazine

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