The Hidden Benefits of Magical Thinking

Professor Bruce Hood (Bristol University) is an experimental psychologist specialising in developmental cognitive neuroscience. His major research projects focus on discovering what’s behind adult magical thinking.

According to Hood, we humans are hard-wired to develop beliefs as a way to make sense of our world and these beliefs carry with them manifest consequences. We’re also hard-wired to impose structure and order in our lives by developing rituals or practices around those beliefs (touch on wood). 

One of the most intriguing rituals involves what Hood calls sympathetic magic – or the belief in naturally occurring correspondences (or sympathies) between such diverse things as food, colours, animals, gem stones, fabrics, plants, and days of the week.

Imagine two violins. Sympathetic vibration occurs when two strings are tuned to the same pitch. When one is plucked, the other sings out ‘in sympathy’.

The implications of Hood’s work for coaching are intriguing:

  1. When someone believes that she cannot do XYZ, then at least until she changes her belief, she probably can’t do. Likewise, if she believes that she can do ABC, then, it’s a pretty good bet that she will. 
  2. One of the primary goals of coaching is to eliminate (or strengthen) such beliefs as needed and this is why a good coach focuses less on asking ‘why’ but instead on ‘what’. For example, if I ask my client ‘why’ she feels so terrible, then in answering she is only reinforcing her negative beliefs about herself. But in responding to the question ‘what’ situations make her feel terrible and what do they share in common, she achieves a genuine opportunity to examine the causes and triggers of her beliefs.
  3. Let’s face it, change is hard work. If it weren’t then New Year resolutions would stand a better chance of success. But if my client creates a ritual or talisman that can be relied upon in times of stress to remind her of what she’s chosen to change, then she’s in a stronger position. 
  4. Even better, if her rituals and talismans are in line with long-established sympathies and correspondences, they draw on strong energies already in existence.
  5. For example, if she has an important meeting or interview set for a Thursday, she might choose to tap into the ‘luck’ traditionally associated with Jupiter, the planetary ruler of Thursday. 

Who knows but that boost of confidence gained by wearing a royal blue dress or suit or maybe a piece of amethyst jewellery, (all associated with Jupiter), might be enough to secure her success.

Professor Hood would not be surprised if it did.

Would you?

If you’d like to find out more how ‘magical thinking’ can help you, book now for a 30 minute chat!

Sex & Lies

Ever wonder why certain relationship patterns keep repeating over and over? 

When the queen asks her magic mirror, who is the ‘fairest’ of them all, the reflection of Snow White appears rather than her own. Instantly, the queen is overcome with jealousy and vows to destroy Snow White, her rival.

Such is the stuff of fairy tales and compulsive relationships.

Whilst it is true that each and every one of our relationships is a mirror in which we see ourselves, compulsive relationships are special. At the base of every compulsive relationships is a deeply buried archetypal pattern that is demanding attention and it will continue to do so until we ‘get the picture’.

This queen cannot deal with the insecurities, which the pretty face of Snow White stirs up and so, predictably, she projects her anger onto Snow White. This plunges them both into an archetypal dynamic of destruction and renewal. It is interesting to note that in the original (unsanitized) tale, the queen was not the step-mother of Snow White but her real mother, who intended to eat her daughter’s heart to boost her own power.

Her mother’s treachery serves as Snow White’s initiation to adulthood (her father being noticeably absent). When Snow White gives in to the temptation to eat the apple (fruit of the tree of knowledge and sacred symbol of Venus, Goddess of Love), her child ‘self’ dies and there is a period of dormancy and mourning before she can move forward in life again.

By the end of the story (in the original version), Snow White marries a prince and as the new queen, behaves as badly as her mother. We have come full circle as the new queen forces the old queen to dance herself to death wearing re-hot iron shoes.

Some years ago, I was trapped in a compulsive relationship with an older woman. She was my boss. Her Chiron was in close contact with my Mar/Venus conjunction and set off my Moon square Mars; we ‘enjoyed’ mutual Mars/Uranus synastry contacts. My passion was aroused; such desires I’ve never known before or after. Scared, I took the moral high ground and played Snow White to her Wicked Witch.

At last, it dawned on me that we were acting just like me and my mother. But this time, no longer a child, I made my escape straight from the pan into the fire. 

Although this relationship with my boss had put me in touch with my long suppressed anger and thwarted ambition ( a holdover from my relationship with my mother), another woman, (my new boss) came along and made it clear to me that I had, as yet, no idea how to use it. 

If you could use some help getting to grips with your compulsive relationship patterns, book a complimentary ½ hour slot in my calendar to explore how we might work together.

Astrological Coaching – How does it work?

Underpinning my own brand of astrological coaching, is the Narrative Coaching Model, which is itself based on a clever mix of existential philosophy, literary theory, and object-relations psychology.

I’ve studied with Dr David Drake

The model formats the flow of coaching conversations during our sessions together, addressing and readdressing four distinct specific phases as needed:

  1. Situation– this phase is all about identifying what’s happening for you right now. Astrology is invaluable here because it quickly hones in on what aspect of your current situation most urgently needs your attention. In this regard, there are a variety of fantastic astrological techniques to choose from but the quickest and most reliable is to focus not on your sun, but on your moon.
  2. Search– this phase is all about exploring what you would like to be different in the future. Having figured out what is not working now, you consider what might work instead. During this phase, you’ll identify serious possibilities for change as well as honestly assessing both your ability and commitment to making it happen. Astrology keeps you on track, ensuring that you’re true to yourself and your personal values and not wasting time on things that, at the end of the day, don’t really matter.
  3. Shift– this phase is all about making change happen. For example, if in the past you were XYZ and have decided that you want to be ABC, then you’ll need to understand exactly what needs to be done to reach your goal. Try out different strategies in real time. Discard those that don’t work and polish up those that do. Whilst it is true for everyone that practice makes perfect, what size and shape that practice takes is different for everyone and here, again, astrology weighs in by helping you to quickly identify your personal strengths and use them to maximum advantage. 
  4. Sustain– this phase is taking your new positive change patterns back in your every-day world, actually trying out your strategies and assessing how they fare. Change of any kind is never easy and you’ll still need support . Astrology is invaluable in helping to launch the ‘new you’ at the just right time and in just the right way.

Changing Direction

Today, the Sun and Mercury have moved into Gemini and the atmosphere could not be more communicative, but communicative in a special way because the planetary ruler of Gemini is Mercury.  According to ancient wisdom, when communications got stuck, the god Mercury was invoked to shift them in a completely new direction.

For the next few days, you can do the same and here’s how to make this energy work to your advantage.

Let’s assume that you’ve been discussing something with someone and they are fixated on a point from which you’d like to move away. Use the following word pattern to adroitly change the ‘subject’ to that of your choosing:

The issue isn’t x (their point), it’s y (your point) and that means ABC.’ Finish the sequence by directing a specific question to the other person about ABC, eliciting their experience on the subject, and you’re on your way.

Rintu Basu, Persuasion Skills (Black Book)

For example, you want a new car but your partner keeps on about the cost. Gently (matching his conversational tone and style), say something along the lines of ‘the issue isn’t how expensive is the car, darling, but about the pleasure it will give you – imagine all the additional space you’ll have to store your kit for our camping trips. Where would we go first, sweetheart, how about that place you love in Cornwall?’

Conversation changer: ‘this isn’t about x (his point), but y (your point) and that means ….’

This works equally well in the office:

For example, assume your boss has just given you a new project that will, in your view, take up too much of your time:

‘I agree with you that the new project is very important, sir/madam, and the issue isn’t that I should take charge of it but instead that, as you say, it is done as quickly as possible. This means that because I have so much on my plate at the moment, it would be better if someone else takes the project. Now, sir/madam, who on our team , in your opinion, would be the best choice – I know, how about A or B? What do you think?’

… try it today and see how it works and, remember, practice makes perfect!

Cement your plans

Since the beginning of January,  Mercury has been in Capricorn and you’ve had a good chance to put your ideas to the test.

Now, with Mercury moving in Aquarius (where it remains until mid-February), you have the chance to cement those ideas into concrete plans and to position them correctly.


The key to making the best of this period is to ensure that your plans are both rational and organized. They should benefit not just yourself but others as well. Indeed, the more socially progressive your plans, the greater likelihood of their happy fruition.

Avoid, however, the impulse to push your agenda too hard. During this period, taking on board the constructive comments of others can only strengthen your cause.

By contrast, taking a rigid approach (i.e. my way or no way) will not help. Indeed, such an attitude could cause your plans to spin out of your control.

In other words, communicate wisely.

Want to brush up on your presentation skills?

Consider coaching.

Dream Catcher

Starting today (13 January), one of the major planetary aspects of 2019 gets underway when Jupiter and Neptune come together in an opportunistic square.

Because both planets are strong in their signs of rulership (Sagittarius and Pisces, respectively), you can expect this square, in the hands of someone both sensible and willing to do some good-old-fashioned hard work, to yield extraordinary results.

DREAM CATCHER.jpgJupiter is big picture, an inspired optimistic vision for the future. Combined with Neptune, which brings magic into your life, now is the time to catch your dreams and make them happen.

The trick, however, is not to go overboard.

Both Jupiter and Neptune share a taste for the boundless. Together, they are the signature of the dreamer/visionary with a foolhardy naivety. This is territory where usually, you’d be well advised not to tread but luckily, this time, there’s a mitigating factor, Saturn.

Saturn is all about accomplishment, duty, hard-work, and authority. Saturn grounds  both you and your plans. Saturn gives you a unique opportunity to dig deeper, identity the your plan’s weak spots , as well as to learn from your prior mistakes.

If ever your dreams can manifest, it is during these next nine months.

The next two bites of this juicy Jupiter/Neptune apple comes 16 June and 21 September. Saturn is doing a slow burn the entire time.

To make best use of this propitious period, why not undertake some astrological coaching right now?

  • What could happen if, magically, all obstacles disappeared?
  • What are those obstacles and from whence did they come?
  • What is your positive intention?

Tough Talk

Chances are that during November and December 2018 you had any number of fantastic ideas.

With Mercury in Sagittarius it was, after all, a period of possibility and promise.

But now, Mercury is moving into Capricorn (5 – 24 January 2019) and it is time to put those ideas to the test with the dedication and discipline that they deserve.

Don’t be surprised when this proves more difficult than you’d imagined. The reality is that some of those ideas were never going to work and now you will be forced to severely modify or even abandon them.

In this regard, expect 12-13 January to be particularly challenging.

TOugh talk

The good news is, however, that whilst Mercury is in Capricorn, you have the opportunity to gain valuable insight about what works and what doesn’t and most importantly, why.

Time for some tough talk with self and others:

  • If you could do this again, what would you do differently?
  • How can you make the most of this experience?
  • Where do you go from here?

Personal Branding – aka – how to positively distinguish yourself from the crowd

You already have a personal brand, whether or not you know it.

If you’ve not built it yourself, then others will have created it for you:

  • She’s friendly,
  • He’s not.
  • We can count on him to finish the job,
  • She makes a mess of everything she starts.

Your personal brand shows the world that which makes you unique, that which makes you stand out from the crowd. It not only defines who you are but also that which you value.

Personal branding has long been used by the likes of Oprah, Lady Gaga, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Naturally, with time, both you and your brand will evolve. But you have to start someplace and the best place to start is with the essential qualities of your natal, or Sun sign. Even someone with the same sign as you will express those qualities differently. This is because each person’s Sun is positioned differently within his or her chart.

Mood boards, a collage containing a variety of images, text, and/or other objects to express feelings, values, and ideas, are often used by professional designers to help  their business clients to develop their brand identity. You might use one to develop your own personal brand.

Look for images that convey what is important to convey the essence of you. For example, are you playful or serious, simple or sophisticated, feisty or calm?  What do you want most in life? What motivates you to get up each morning and start a new day? When narrowing down your choices, stay focused on your message.. Each time you decide to include something,  make sure it communicates an essential aspect of what it means for you to be the best that you, personally, can be.

Astrologically, this equates to your Sun, or Star sign – where you shine!


moodboard communication
My Sun is in Libra and it’s all about relating and communication

Your astrological sun is your essential focus, shining like a lighthouse beacon to  keep you clear of the rocks and safe on your path.


  • With my Sun in Libra, my focus is on relating and at least to me, that implies a two-way street requiring listening as well as talking. I’ve conveyed my take on this in the mood board above.
  • If your Sun were in Aries, your focus would on breaking new ground whilst if in Taurus, it would be on establishing stability.
  • Gemini’s focus is to facilitate communication whilst Cancer gathers folks together in an intimate group.
  • The focus of Leo is to deliver good cheer to self and others whilst the focus of Virgo is to sift through that which has been harvested so as to extract all that which is of benefit.
  • Scorpio is meant to shine light on that which is other hidden so that it can be dealt with in a timely manner whilst Sagittarius shines light on that which is, as yet, a mere potentiality.
  • Capricorn shines his light on organisational systems so we understand how they work whilst the focus of Aquarius, a fragment of Capricorn’s light, is on showing up the cracks and crevices that require fixing.
  • Finally, Pisces is meant to refocus the light through a different lens so that dissolves boundaries.

Hopefully, that’s enough to get you started and have fun!

In the new year, I plan to offer coaching workshops or webinars on using astrology for personal branding so if you might be interested, please sign up for my blogs and newsletters and watch this space.

Live and learn

  • What does this teach you?

  • Is this an opportunity to learn more about yourself?

  • If you were giving yourself advice right now, what would it be?


What if you had 5 magic minutes to speak with the person whom you most admire and respect? Maybe he or she is your real-life hero or heroine or maybe he or she is from a prior generation, someone whom you would have loved to have met? As you line up your questions, what will you be thinking? As you listen to the answers , what will you make of them? What did this person do to makes you so respect and admire them and, more importantly how did they do it?

  • What if you talked to everyone this way?
  • What could you learn from others’ unique experiences?
  • What if your own unique experiences could help someone to learn something?
  • What if in helping them to learn, you learned something more?

Now that the Sun has entered Capricorn (21 December 2018 at 22:24 GMT), you’re in a position answer such questions and make the best of the answers. Capricorn is about making order out of chaos, overcoming challenges, and learning from mistakes – your own and those of others.  Capricorn is also about the possibilities that might arise from increased patience, dedication, and discipline. Capricorn is about development through overcoming the obstacles in your path.

Why care?

Because, according to Capricorn, when you stop improving yourself, you’ve stopped living.



The theatre of opportunity

  • What might you gain if you go for it?

  • What might you lose if you don’t?

  • What more do you need to decide?

me and ju in sg

From 12 December (23:44 GMT) until Mercury is back in Sagittarius having dipped  into Scorpio for awhile. However, unlike back in October when Mercury first entered Sagittarius, he’s now fast applying for a conjunction with Jupiter.

The by-word during this period is propaganda.

This is a heady mix of promise, talent and possibility. It also includes a high dose of fantasy and theatre. If ever there was a time for propaganda to catch and spread like wildfire, it’s when Mercury and Jupiter come together. Jupiter expands all it touches and Mercury’s ambivalence regarding ‘truth’ is well-documented.

When Mercury first entered Sagittarius (8th November), the advice was that honesty is the best policy and all that glitters is not gold. This remains valid but now there’s an added twist.

Watch out!

There’s good chance that someone is deliberately trying to misrepresent an opportunity and the temptation to grab it will be hard to resist not the least because the anticipated rewards appear so great.

This is not to suggest that genuine opportunities can’t come along during this time. It is, however, to suggest that rather than just reading the small print yourself to ensure that what you’ve been told will be what you’ll get, you may want to hire a good lawyer to do it for you.