Free will astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You're a mutant. I swear to God. Up till now you may have been able to hide the truth from everyone, even yourself, but it can no longer be suppressed. A quality that sets you apart from normal human beings — a curious power that has been mostly dormant — is now ripening at a rapid rate. And no, it's not a cartoony supernatural skill akin to those demonstrated by the X-Men. It involves a wrinkle that only you, of all the people in the world, can create. Might be time to dream up a new mutant name for yourself.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): I was never the class clown. I am not a troubled but devilishly handsome wastrel living on a trust fund. I've never beaten up anyone, have steadfastly not aspired to write like Raymond Carver, and have never played strip Scrabble with a celebrity junkie on a leaky waterbed in a Key West penthouse. There are so many things I am not and will never be. I'm glad I know about them; it helps me stay focused on exactly who I am. What about you, Taurus? This is a perfect astrological moment for you to fantasize about all the paths you will never take. Put it in writing and lock it in a safe-deposit box until September, 2005.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You're savvy enough to avoid getting salt rubbed in your wounds, Gemini. I'm not worried that you'll allow some sadist to stride right up to you and torture your fresh gash. But did you know that sugar is as painful as salt when sprinkled on an owie? You should be vigilant for the well-meaning meddlers and sweet-talking manipulators who might benefit from your suffering. Meditate on the fact that the German word "gift" means "poison."

CANCER (June 21-July 22): You don't grow your own food or sew your own clothes, and you didn't build your own house or car. You probably don't know where your water comes from or where your wastes go. The last time you doffed your clothes for a whole day was when you were 2 months old, and you don't even know the names of your great-grandparents, let alone what they were like. I'd say, then, Cancer, that it's high time for you to find some sources to return to. Need some suggestions? Float naked in a lake or sea. Sleep all night under the oldest tree you can find, lulling yourself into dreamland with your oldest memories. Imagine what your parents were thinking in the hour when you were conceived.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Most cultures besides ours have marked the transition from childhood to adolescence with rites of passage. In ancient Greece, for instance, youngsters had to surrender their toys on altars to the gods, signifying their readiness to leave kid stuff behind. I'd like to borrow but warp this old custom for your use, Leo. You will soon receive an invitation to leap into a second childhood, you see, and I heartily encourage you to accept it. To sanctify your gleeful agreement, I propose that you pick out an object that symbolizes the most odious aspects of your adulthood, then burn it on an altar as you pray to the gods of fun and games.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): "That is always best which gives me to myself." This epigram is obviously the work of a solipsistic New Age guru such as Deepak Chopra or James Redfield, right? Nope. Guess again. "The sublime is excited in me by the great doctrine, Obey thyself," our mystery author goes on to say. Ayn Rand? The Libertarian Party's platform? Sorry, wrong again. Here's one more clue, from the same passage. "That which shows God in me, fortifies me. That which shows God out of me, makes me a wart." Give up, Virgo? It's from Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th-century poet and essayist. His words are especially apropos as you enter a phase when it's crucial to learn more about the arts of unselfish greed and divinely sanctioned egotism.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Now and then there arise what I call freestyle days — windows of breezy opportunity when cosmic compulsions are at a minimum. This is one of those tingly times for you Libras. During the coming week, annoying pains in the ass will be on sabbatical, leaving behind a big bright emptiness for you to work in. Your slate will be clean, baby. The tabula will be rasa. Quick, before the reactionary stiffs and crabby naysayers return, spin out a slew of new plotlines that will be impossible to stop.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): For years the U.S. State Department had an official epithet for countries it regarded as incorrigible pariahs, such as North Korea, Iran and Libya: rogue nations. In the horoscope business, there's a rough equivalent. Multitudes of astrologers typically treat Scorpio like the zodiac's rogue sign. I've worked tirelessly to correct this abuse. Now, inspired by the State Department's recent decision to retire the use of "rogue nation," I'm calling on stargazers everywhere to stop the idiotic demonization of Scorpios! It's a perfect moment to do so. The planets are conspiring to rehabilitate and even elevate your reputation. Hereafter let it be known that you are not obsessed, vengeful, and manipulative! You are passionate, just, and purposeful!

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): The cosmos will conspire to boost your clout and prestige in the coming weeks. To help you get the most out of its efforts, I've created the following affirmations for you. Please repeat them 10 times a day. I am a freaking miracle-maker. Wild beasts grow obeisant at the twitch of my eyebrow. The ocean itself is my tricky ally. Unlike mere mortals, I'm capable of communing with God even while mopping a floor or flossing my teeth. Mosquitoes do not bite me. Children never vomit on my shoes. I could wear pajamas to the grocery store and no one would laugh because my charisma is so dazzling. It is within my amazing power to solve every mystery, but I choose to let a few remain enigmas so that I may continue to be amused and surprised by life.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): As father of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin was one of history's leading scientists. Yet his work might not have jelled without the help of 19th-century researcher Charles Lyell, whose Principles of Geology was crucial in refuting the widely held belief that the Earth was only 6,000 years old. Years after devouring Lyell's opus, Darwin said, "I really think my books come half out of Lyell's brain. I see through his eyes." Have you ever had the privilege of encountering a soul-shaker such as that, Capricorn? Are you humble and receptive enough to let yourself be touched so deeply? I foresee the arrival of an influence that could become not half, but maybe 10 percent of your brain.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): My request is unusual, but I assure you it's in compliance with current astrological trends. What I'd like you to do is to make some money. Literally. Gather paper, scissors and pens. Create three pieces of currency in denominations of $20, $100 and $1000. But instead of the usual pictures of heads of state and decorative features that appear on standard legal tender, I want you to draw images and symbols of your muses. Maybe they're attractive people you lust for from afar. Maybe they're spiritual beings or dream characters or inspiring celebrities or beloved animals. If you don't have muses, get some. Once you're finished designing your muse money, pay yourself with it. Then sit back and wait for the bolts of inspiration to begin.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "(T)he chicken's claws will tear/A Rembrandt drawing if you put it down," says Robert Bly in his poem "The Yellow Dot." His point? The chicken is not an evil art-hater. Keep this idea close at hand this week, Pisces. It'll prevent you from howling at the people who inadvertently mess with your beautiful plans. Hell, it may even stop you from making it possible for them to mess with your beautiful plans in the first place. Don't throw any Rembrandt drawings on the floor, OK? Homework: Describe the sweet treatment you wish other people would provide you with even though you never give it to yourself.

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