Free Will Astrology 

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Larva and pupa are key metaphors for you in the next year. They refer to the two earliest stages of a butterfly's life cycle. While a larva, the future winged beauty wanders around as a caterpillar, stuffing itself with as much nutritive substance as possible. Upon becoming a pupa, it remains virtually inert, working furiously on the inside to transform itself into its mature form. My sense is that your larval stage begins any day now and you'll turn into a pupa shortly before your birthday next year. Then, of course, there's the ultimate emergence in the summer of 2002.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Around the age of 5 or 6, many children begin to wonder if the adults that care for them are their real parents. Some imagine they were secretly adopted. Others suppose they were originally born into a royal family. This universal tendency is reflected in fairy tales, which are replete with babies stolen or separated from a king or queen. As irrational as that might be, many of us unconsciously carry it into adulthood. It helps explain why we sometimes feel like orphans, even if our parents are still alive. It's exacerbated because we're often out of touch with our pasts and have no relationship with a loving father god or mother goddess. That's the bad news, Taurus. The good news? It's all due for a change. Can you handle feeling more at home in the world than ever before?

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I'm not a big fan of homely metaphors drawn from the culture of consumerism. Alas, that's exactly the kind of omen I found for you this week. You were being compared to a tube of toothpaste that has never been squeezed from the bottom, but only from the top. I think you know what to do now. Let me suggest how smart it will be for you to plumb the good stuff that's been languishing unused down below.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Imagine that you are both the wood and the fire that consumes the wood. When you focus your awareness in the part of you that is the wood, you hurt; it's painful to feel your sense of solidity breaking down. As you shift your attention to the part of you that is the fire, you exult in the wild joy of liberation and power. As a guardian of your happiness, I'm tempted to urge you to visualize yourself primarily as the fire. But as an ally of your soul, I believe it's more important to ask you to be both wood and fire simultaneously, at least for now.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Shall we review the highlights and lowlights of your recent performances? You raised your consciousness so far, so fast that you ended up with your head in the clouds. When you plopped back down to earth, you sprained your ego. During your recuperation you coaxed back several lost or banished resources. That impelled you to rebel rashly against some very comfortable traditions. Fortunately, that forced you out into the equivalent of a beer can-littered wilderness, where you will shortly find something resembling God. Final score: Successes, 10; Failures, 7.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): You're one of the finalists in our "Survivor of the Year" award for 2001. If you're willing to take a little trip to hell and back in the next couple weeks, you could assure yourself the crown. Let me be more precise: "hell" is the wrong word. "Hell" is the term the Christians coined to distort the meaning of the realm of shadows and mystery. This "underworld" can be rather entertaining and not at all unpleasant if you approach it with the right attitudes. And what are they? An optimistic curiosity to learn what you've been ignorant about; a determination to uncover feelings that have been repressed; a spiritual yearning for inspiration that's not available when you're in your normal daily trance.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Have you ever dreamed of being your own master, of rebelling against people like me who try to tell you who you are and what you should do? Wouldn't you enjoy escaping the behavior that cause hardening of the arteries in laboratory rats? I believe that now is the time and this is the place. A colorful destiny is teasingly pleading for you to merge with it. All you have to do is give yourself unconditionally to your deepest desire. Of course, that will require all your ingenuity, compassion and daring. The easiest trick in the world is also the hardest.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): What you thought was a weedy wasteland is merely the edge of a fertile wilderness. A gnarled, branchless tree pockmarked with wormholes turns out to be a signpost. You're not lost after all. Now here I come, shoving a Rorschach test in your face. When you first stare at it, you see a madman choking a giraffe as a ladder falls. But as I tickle your ribs, you decide it's an image of you dancing on top a beautifully carved oak table in a throne room.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Confidential to Sagittarian muckrakers, whistle-blowers and righteous rebels: Your passion to get to the bottom of the truth needs to intensify. Confidential to Saj researchers: Breakthroughs are nigh if you relax into your work and monitor your dreams. Confidential to Saj conspiracy theorists: Smoking guns you've been trying to obtain forever are finally accessible. Confidential to Saj queers who're Star Trek fans: Launch a letter-writing campaign to get an openly gay character on the new "Enterprise" TV show. Confidential to Saj trendsetters: Wear your clothes backward and inside out. Confidential to those who don't fit any of the above categories: Translate everything I just said into metaphors that apply in your own sphere.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): "The ancient Egyptians thought onions symbolized the many-layered universe," notes naturalist Diane Ackerman, "and swore oaths on an onion as we might on a Bible." I recommend that you resurrect this practice now that you're entering the vow-taking season. You're about to enjoy a phase in your astrological cycle when you'll receive lots of cosmic assistance if you commit yourself to a challenging process you're sure you can love over the long haul. So wrap your hands around a big, ripe onion and take a solemn (but maybe also slightly playful) pledge.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In the film Himalaya, the Tibetan Buddhist monk-in-training, Norbou, agrees to leave the peace and quiet of the monastery in order to help his father on an arduous trek into the mountains. "Why?" asks the old man, surprised by his son's decision. "My master told me," Norbou replies, "that when two paths present themselves, always take the hardest one." As you know, Aquarius, I am not a fan of the "no pain, no gain" philosophy of life. However, in response to your current astrological omens, I heartily recommend that you borrow the young monk's approach.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Since the first Piscean life form first crept out of the primordial ooze eons ago, there's probably never been a better time than now for you to triumph forever over your congenital longing to crawl back into the primordial ooze. Your ache to be at one with the oceanic flow is no longer competing with your growing drive to be a vividly individuated human; instead, it is actually enhancing that drive for a change. I've been waiting for this turning point since I began writing this column 23 years ago. Please seize the tremendous opportunity. Find the secret to being your unique self even as you celebrate your urge to merge. Homework: I dare you to do something this week that you will remember with pride and passion until the end of your

Speaking of Spirituality, Free Will Astrology

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