Saturday, September 26, 2009

From Paranoia to Pronoia

From Paranoia to Pronoia

Lately, I’ve been counseling a lot of people who have strong Scorpio elements in their chart. By this, I mean that they have the zodiac sign, Scorpio, featured in a prominent place, like their ascendant sign, their moon sign or Sun sign. Most people know their Sun sign as that’s the sign the Sun was traveling in when they were born and the most commonly discussed in pop astrology columns and articles. So when I tell you, “I’m a Scorpio,” which I am, you can trust I’m saying that the Sun was traveling through the sign of Scorpio when I was born. But the Moon was also traveling through a particular sign when you were born, which most likely is not the same sign as your Sun sign, and your rising sign is what sign was coming above the horizon at your birth. All three are important and can give an astrologer a thumbnail sketch of your life’s purpose, how you’re likely to fulfill it, and what kind of challenges you may encounter in fulfilling it. I call these three key points “the legs of a chart.” So when any one of these three legs have the “flavor” of a particular sign, then there are certain themes that will emerge that prove to be very important in a person’s life. For Scorpio, we must talk about paranoia.

First, we should probably say a few words about Scorpio, before Scorpios get more paranoid and think I’m just picking on them. I’m not. Scorpio, astrologically, represents that universal principle that is pre-occupied with life and living itself. This pre-occupation can happen in three ways: thinking about generation (creating or pro-creating); re-generation (coming up from the ashes of something traumatic); or death itself (life coming to its cycle of closure or permanent transformation). The first way, generation, is what earns Scorpio-influenced people the claim as the sex-crazed people of the Zodiac, or in street parlance: freaks. I won’t debate the merits of that claim as I think it’s enough to say that I’ve met freaks in all 12 signs and no real statistical data on Scorpionic freakiness is forthcoming. The second way, re-generation, is all about how Scorpio-influenced people (either by rising sign, Sun sign or moon sign) will usually go through severe trials and literally have to re-build their lives. They must find a way to begin anew and sometimes they do that a lot! Lastly, Scorpios may have a deep abiding fear of extinction, death. This fear may compel them to think that death or extinction may loom at every corner, in some form or fashion. If someone isn’t literally attempting to kill them, then someone may be attempting to demoralize them or extinguish them mentally, emotionally or spiritually. I will not say that this may not be happening or have happened to Scorpios, as it certainly does, but perhaps not as much as they much think. When that thinking goes too far, paranoia is born.

Paranoia literally means besides-thinking, or thinking that is flawed or skewed. However, the real error in paranoia is not the idea that someone may be out to get you, but that everyone is out to get you or that certain people are out to get you all the time. It’s error of judgement in measure, not process. This leads to really narrow thinking as it becomes hard to distinguish or trust friend from foe. It’s equally hard to appreciate the goodness of life as the paranoiac comes to suspect the worst, in nearly everyone and everything. What might have started off as a correct hunch or intuition about a person or situation transforms into an ongoing life manual for dealing with all situations and people. We get locked into a loop or belief system that the world or universe only means us harm and not good; we also come to believe that whatever seeks to destroy us actually will most likely and certainly destroy us as well. This is where the natural instinct for survival and self-preservation that Scorpio represents gets out of control.

There are at least a couple of ways to address paranoia when it becomes rampant. (Providing it’s not drug-induced. Those who know, know what I’m talking about! ;-) ) First, I’d like to introduce you to pronoia, paranoia’s good sister, if you will. Paranoia is the idea that there are hidden meanings or forces that seek to spell out your doom. Pronoia is a forward type of thinking to see other hidden meanings that are “conspiring” for your benefit. You can imagine someone watching you through your mirror, as I knew a Scorpio who believed that, for the benefit of the government, or you can imagine Angels watching over you as you walk home late at night. Both ways of thinking include real possibilities that are really hard to prove, but one clearly leads to less stress. Again, I don’t want to debate whether the perceptions of paranoia are true as it depends on how much we think the universe is conspiring against us. You have and will, indeed, encounter again people who don’t aspire the best for you. On a group level, many Black people in America know about the FBI’s COunter INTELligence PROgram (COINTELPRO) in the mid-20th century that was designed to study and foil the efforts of Black organizations deemed revolutionary (but perhaps progressive for Black people). This is documented. However, it’s one thing to intuit or even encounter danger in the past, and it’s another thing to always suspect danger in the future. Pronoia keeps the equally valid idea that there is as much that conspires for you as against you. Pronoia is a testament of faith, while paranoia is a testament of fate. Faith honors the Spirit, while fate is what appears in our lives as mysterious and unalterable. Pronoia realizes that there is something in you that cannot be destroyed and is Divine. Paranoia recognizes that life is ephemeral and requires constant vigilance and investigation. The key is to be able to hold space for both. If you think everything is a conspiracy, then you abdicate power in your own life. If you think nothing is mysterious or malicious and beyond one’s own power, then you’re bound to be disappointed and seriously caught unawares, to put it mildly. Too often, Scorpio-influenced people, think too much about the paranoia and conspiracy toward menace than the good.

So what maintains that balance? I hate to sound cliched and cheesy, but survival only happens in one moment: NOW. The more we can be present with whatever reality we face in the moment, the more we can trust to find the wisdom of the appropriate moment. We can choose the kernel of goodness that Pronoia teaches us that is our birthright and we can equally embrace the kernel that lets us know that life is ephemeral and mysterious. But it’s rarely a matter of life and death, as Scorpio-influenced people might like to think. There is something in us that can never die, and we may have as many hidden friends as we perceive foes. The blessing of the journey of this thing called Life is forging the wisdom to know that. But only embracing paranoia can only lead to more paranoia and that’s no way to live a life. It ultimately is a self-fulfilling prophecy of self destruction. Scorpio-influenced people seem to have to learn that lesson a lot, but they aren’t certainly the only people to have to do so. We all could.

Samuel F. Reynolds

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