Saturday, April 12, 2014

Being Ourselves

My copy of R.H. Naylor's Home Astrology, (1933) around 80 years old, pages yellowing and brittle, can still prove to be a source of interest, as part and parcel of the history of popular astrology.
R.H. Naylor
(1889-1952) was the first Sun sign astrologer with forecasts appearing in British newspapers - that was in 1930.

In Home Astrology, a book written for readers with no knowledge of the subject at all, Mr Naylor at one point talked about personal magnetism.
"Some people are naturally magnetic, i.e. others are blindly attracted to them. This power of attraction often appears to be entirely independent of physical appeal or character".
He goes on later to warn that,
" There is no greater enemy of personal magnetism than the modern passion for imitation. The young people of today are so busy trying to model themselves upon their favourite film star, theatrical celebrity or public figure, that they forget to be themselves."
Oh Mr. Naylor ! Nothing changes! It was ever thus, and thus it will will be for ever more, I suspect!
"BE YOURSELF" he says "The real you is quite unlike anybody else, and for just that reason, it is naturally attractive."
Digging deeper into astrology than the Sun Sign, much deeper, using the many and varied tools and methods available to astrologers, it becomes blindingly obvious how unique - and I do mean unique in its literal sense - each one of us is. Nobody else is born in exactly the same place at exactly the second you took your first breath. Not even your twin, if you have one. Siblings have similar background and similar inherited genes, but astrology and experiences will differ. This is why astrology can never be capable of all-round proof of its validity - too many variables and imponderables.

So, you'd think it'd be easy to "be yourself". Nothing to it.! Human nature, though has this wee quirk: attraction to shiny objects and to other, shiny, personalities. I think R.H. Naylor was advising readers not to try to become carbon copies, "clones" of someone they admired.

It's not easy advice to follow though, for a young person: not to imitate others. Imitation is part of how we humans learn. We watch our parents and siblings, and imitate. Later we read and watch, and imitate when we write our first letter, or draw our first scrawly piece of artwork. Almost every great writer or artist has been inspired by someone else before them. It's the way life is. And, we never really finish "becoming ourselves", development slows but never stops, until our life stops.

I clearly recall, in my schooldays, trying to copy somebody else's style of handwriting, because my natural style didn't please me. School mistress fairly quickly recognised what I was up to, and gave me a lecture along the lines of Mr. Naylor's advice. I felt squashed and embarrassed for a while. Little by little I adjusted my handwriting until, though it did retain whispers of the style I'd so admired, it was different, and solely my own. This is what happens, I think. We take bits and pieces from all life's experiences and encounters with others, and use them in the development and blossoming of our original innate and unique characteristics.

Obliquely related to all of the above is the experience of finding oneself admiring, maybe even wishing to emulate, a certain style, or a certain smile, of someone whose planetary blueprint matches, complements our own. What I find absolutely fascinating is how this can happen without knowing anything at all about the other person, at the time of initial "attraction". I suspect that this phenomenon is related to the kind of "magnetism" Mr. Naylor mentioned in his book. "Like attracts like", or even "like attracts its opposite" has been attributed to several different sources, depending on a favourite theory of the person writing or speaking. I've noticed it being related to, for example, twin souls/old souls, psychic vibrations, body/sexual chemistry. I like to think, rather than, or maybe in tandem with, one or more of those factors, like attracts like/opposite springs from an astrological sensitivity imprinted in our DNA.


mike said...

It's the "black sheep"'s in our genetic makeup to allow traits that have taken eons to evolve, that allow stability within a species, to eliminate differences within that species that could produce instability. But fickle Mother Nature has a trick up her sleeves when it comes to the "black sheep" and the process is called natural selection:

"The evolution of the peppered moth over the last two hundred years has been studied in detail. Originally, the vast majority of peppered moths had light colouration, which effectively camouflaged them against the light-coloured trees and lichens which they rested upon. However, because of widespread pollution during the Industrial Revolution in England, many of the lichens died out, and the trees that peppered moths rested on became blackened by soot, causing most of the light-coloured moths, or typica, to die off from predation. At the same time, the dark-coloured, or melanic, moths, carbonaria, flourished because of their ability to hide on the darkened trees."

I was an adolescent at a time when every youngster dressed alike (unlike today's youth that have genres of dress: punk, gothic, hippy, rap, etc. My clothes came from junk stores and my mother bought clothes that were more appropriate for her generation, than mine. It took several years for the latest fashions to become unfashionable and appear in the thrift stores, so I was always years behind in style and never in style...LOL. I was frequently taunted and certainly viewed by my peers as an outcast. It was painful at the time, but was quite beneficial in the long run, though it took many additional years and maturity to see it that way. It allowed me to naturally associate with fellow outcasts to form our own clique and my fellow outcasts were much more fun and enlightened than the superficial in-crowd.

The "herd mentality" fits today's post, too, Twilight. It pays social dividends to be think-alikes and subvert original thinking, which could cause social rejection. Applies to careers, too: don't rock the boat even if the company maintains an "open door" policy. Look at Edward Snowdon, et al. The "herd mentality" is pervasive in our politics and is probably the primary reason things stay the same, though we all desperately crave positive change, and would require a very gutsy politician. Thinking outside of the box is only rewarded after persecution...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike~ I'm not sure how the "black sheep" syndrome relates here, but the herd instinct most definitely is related.

Though I didn't have to endure indignities similar to yours due to what I wore at school - we (at an all girls school) were regimented into school uniform. The only chance to be original lay in modification - jumping on our hats regularly to make them look battered, rolling the sleeve a little higher. Skirt length a little higher/lower? Not allowed - the skirt had to brush the floor when kneeling or we'd be told to have it changed promptly.

Having been a tad overweight and chubby, and shy, I found myself on the margins of things for most of my school days. As in your experience, I also tended to gravitate to other "marginal" types, but made few real friends.

Perhaps that early experience led to me remaining on the margins, as I have throughout life. Aquarius Sun is supposed to enjoy group activities - that's 100% wrong in my case....I avoid them like the plague.

Your last sentence reminded me of Gandhi's quote

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

mike (again) said...

I'll probably dig a deeper hole here, Twilight, so feel free to ignore this comment. Nature rewards conformity within species. Many animal mothers will reject the abnormal-looking newborn. Those animals that have different modes of behavior that differs from their species will suffer social rejection; species like elephants and wolves highly depend on social structure and order, with ostracization as a penalty. A creature exhibiting species' differences can become the new, evolved species, given an event that selects for those differences, eg, peppered moths. Dogs evolved from wolves upon the introduction of humans and our selecting for the less aggressive wolves...perhaps it was the ostracized lone wolf that decided to become part of the human pack. Survival of the fittest can maintain a species or introduce new attributes to that species under specialized conditions.

I believe that humans are simply following that same natural, inherent genetic desire for conformity and consistency within our species when we reward what appears to be appropriate group and social behaviors. We exile or denigrate those that are "different", whether by appearance, intellect, or moral-ethical behaviors.

And, again, human outcasts have founded new colonies with different social structures than those they were cast from, eg, Australia and USA in the more recent times. In today's civilized world, we allow many differences to co-exist, but with differing degrees of tolerance.

There are too many examples in our historic past of individuals that were ridiculed for being themselves and were not celebrated during their lifetimes, but we hold them in esteem now as being forebearers and ahead of their times. Quite often, being different, thus an outcast, made those individuals succeed beyond their wildest imaginations.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I'll dig along side you then, mike - maybe we'll meet somewhere in the southern hemisphere!
So, then, you're thinking that our innate early instict to imitate could be the start, the thin end of the wedge as it were, of a genetic desire for conformity?
I won't disagree, but then why do self-help gurus all tell us to "be ourselves" - which would appear to be advising in favour of non-conformity? Follwoing the advice would lead to...? Ah!..Ok....the formation of new "colonies" built around outcasts.....who will then conform to one another. Hmmm.

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turning
Running rings around the moon.....
(Song: Windmills of Your Mind)

I agree completely with your last paragraph. Some people do seem to be born out of time, some too early, others too late. I see this as likely to be related to their natal astrology in some way, but I've no idea how.

mike (again) said...

From Wiki, Social Order:

"A 'social order' is a relatively persistent system of institutions, patterns of interactions and customs, capable of continually reproducing at least those conditions essential for its own existence. The concept refers to all those facts of society which remain relatively constant over time. These conditions could include both property, exchange and power relations, but also cultural forms, communication relations and ideological systems of values.

... Another key factor concerning social order is the principle of extensiveness. This states the more norms and the more important the norms are to a society, the better these norms tie and hold together the group as a whole.

... In every society people belong to groups, such as businesses, families, churches, athletic groups, or neighborhoods. The structure inside of these groups mirrors that of the whole society. There are networks and ties between groups as well as inside of each of the groups that create social order.

... "Status groups" can be based on a person's characteristics such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, caste, region, occupation, physical attractiveness, gender, education, age, etc. They are defined as 'a subculture having a rather specific rank (or status) within the stratification system. That is, societies tend to include a hierarchy of status groups, some enjoying high ranking and some low.'

... Values can be defined as "internal criteria for evaluation". Values are also split into two categories, there are individual values, which pertains to something that we think has worth and then there are social values. Social values are our desires modified according to ethical principles or according to the group we associate with: friends, family, or co-workers. Norms tell us what people ought to do in a given situation. Unlike values, norms are enforced externally – or outside of oneself. A society as a whole determines norms, and they can be passed down from generation to generation.

... An exception to the idea of values and norms as social order-keepers is deviant behavior. Not everyone in a society abides by a set of personal values or the group's norms all the time. For this reason it is generally deemed necessary for a society to have authority. The adverse opinion holds that the need for authority stems from lack of Social justice. It is recognized that effective social justice and the need for authoritative Social control are inversely related."

ex-Chomp said...

" There is no greater enemy of personal magnetism than the modern passion for imitation. The young people of today are so busy trying to model themselves upon their favourite film star, theatrical celebrity or public figure, that they forget to be themselves."

This remains as true as in that age.
I dare saye: Even **more** true, due to the overwhelming power of mass-media - including in its number the web as social networks. In fact, social networks have turned the web into mass-media, a fantastic move indeed...

Twilight said...

mike ~ I suppose, as children, we are molded to fit whatever social norm exists in the society into which we happen to emerge. Some of us are found to be more easily manipulated than others. I suppose, also, that this is a more complex extension of what wild animals do - wolves running in packs, birds flying in flocks etc.

All of that is a very wide and long extension of the "be yourself" advice...which should actually have been "be yourself...if you can - if 'they' will allow you to be!"

Twilight said...

ex-Chomp ~ Exactly! - Social networking has given people more opportunity to interact (verbally at least) with a wider span of individuals than ever before in human history, which affords us more opportunity to find stuff, attitudes, words, opinions to imitate! :-)