Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If I advise you to use your libido to conquer evil, would you even know what the hell I'm talking about? Most of the time, I'm afraid, your urges to be wild and pursue pleasure are divorced from your longings for truth and beauty and goodness. But now is a perfect time to change all that. Cosmic forces are conspiring to lead you into situations where you can stir up rowdy bliss through service to righteous causes and worthy people.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Road crews have been reinventing the main artery through my hometown. Bored senseless as I inch along in my car, I give my fantasy life ample play. Cranky- looking workers in ratty T-shirts are actually bodhisattvas in disguise. Vats of smoking asphalt become alchemical cauldrons cooking up a magical paving material that will sweeten the thoughts of everyone who passes over the new road surface. Today I got a fresh inspiration as I contemplated the "Bump Ahead" signs, which warn of upcoming protuberances. What if there were a psychic equivalent? What if God gave us a "Bump Ahead" sign any time we were approaching a gnarly knob in our path, prompting us to slow down and relax? If he could do it, he'd do it for you soon.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Saturn has been in your sign since last April, and will continue to be there till June 2003. Some traditional astrologers, who regard the ringed planet as a dour agent of limitation, might try to scare you silly with dark premonitions of sacrifice and shrinkage. Because my teachers have taught me to see Saturn as the archetype of the Great Mother, I take a different tack. I say that if you cooperate with her, she'll give birth to the real you. She'll strip you of flaky, flighty tendencies and free you to be your skillful, versatile self without fear of squandering your energy on low-priority goals. With Saturn as your divine mentor, you will become the gorgeous connector you were born to be, unhampered by dead-end yearnings and false ideas about yourself.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): I know you pretty well, Cancerian. I'm a Crab myself. And I'm guessing that right about now your self-protective urges are in overdrive. Certainly one solution is simply to surrender to the fantasy of hiding your tender heart behind an impenetrable fortress. If you choose to go in that direction, you might want to buy yourself an armored fighting vehicle from a military surplus seller. I hear there are good prices on World War II tanks these days. Check out this Web site: But I'll also invite you to contemplate less extreme approaches. The point of guarding your sensitive psyche, after all, is to keep it in prime shape to receive visitors who'll treat it with reverence and respect.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Studies show that people who don't read the daily newspaper or watch TV news have 35 percent fewer negative thoughts. Since your potential problem this week has to do entirely with hallucinated fears and nothing to do with actual demoralizing events, I hope you'll heed these data. Let the other kids call you an escapist Pollyanna. I'll think of you as a wise and happy soul-master who knows the value of disciplining your perceptual intake and nurturing your imagination. (P.S.: To eliminate another 30 percent, avoid cynics who talk trash and bring out the worst in you.)

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In his book Descartes' Error, neurologist Antonio Damasio refutes the lie that our feelings are unreliable guides. He offers scientific arguments to support 17th century French mathematician Blaise Pascal's belief that "the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of." You might want to glean a few pearls from Damasio's book, Virgo. His ideas will come in handy soon, when you'll have to convince doubters (including yourself) that you've tapped into emotional intelligence you're normally blind to.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): This week's equinox marks the most balanced time of the year. The length of the days and nights are equal, and the possibility for human beings to be rational and objective is at a peak. Unlike the spring equinox, which launches the fiery, impulsive astrological month of Aries, the late September crux begins with Libra, the sign whose members are most skilled at creating harmony and grace. What does this all bode for you personally? First, you'll find it easier to be yourself than usual. Second, you'll feel more at home in the world. Third, you'll have cosmic assistance if you make your approach to balance feel more passionate and less likely to anesthetize you.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I've told you a million times not to exaggerate, Scorpio. I really get antsy when you refuse to be patient. If you don't stop berating yourself, I'm going to have to cut you down to size. I'm sick and tired of you emphasizing the dark side of everything. I swear I'll lose my freaking temper and do something stupid if you don't stop making disguised threats. (Editor's note: The previous rant has been a public service announcement designed to alert you to the possibility that the gap between your good side and your bad side is in danger of becoming a little too wide in the coming weeks.)

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I'll understand if you don't feel up to accepting the glamorous but risky assignment I have to offer you; stay comfy and have a nice life, no hard feelings. If, on the other hand, you brashly agree to engage your higher destiny, I promise that your higher destiny will turn you into a force of nature. The fun could be legendary, but the responsibility awesome. Your title might be Hurricane of Love. Your technique would be creative destruction. Your goal would be to lovingly demolish the outmoded beliefs and structures that are subtly undermining your most soulful dreams.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): If you happen to see a man dressed in an emerald velvet cloak bordered by eagle feathers, typing madly on a laptop computer with the Wall Street Journal by his side, I suggest you glide over and whisper this coded question in his right ear: "Lone wolf or social butterfly?" If he says, "lone butterfly," leave him and immediately contact the seven people who would be most helpful in extending your web of allies. If on the other hand the businessman-shaman mutters, "social wolf," leave him and immediately formulate a daring plan to refurbish your web of allies.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Even if you believe you don't have a poetic bone in your body, I urge you to compose three poems in the coming week. The gods will be happy if you do. One poem should be a love letter to the person who most captivates your imagination. A second should be a song of praise about yourself; it could be an outrageous boast or an amazed burst of gratitude for the wonder and mystery of you. The third poem will be in the form of a conversation with the divine presence you feel closest to. I suggest that initially you don't write down any of these lyrical cries of the heart. Rather, speak or chant them aloud while walking, with your only audience the trees and sky and animals.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Think back to your first descent into the abyss many years ago. You were a raw rookie at the time and didn't have many skills to help you negotiate the dark, dank regions. It was no surprise that you came back touchy and scarred. But in each stint in the underworld since then, you've gained more proficiency at remembering who you are even when you feel lost. In fact, I believe that somewhere along the way you passed a crucial threshold. During your next visit below, I suspect you will not only feel a minimum of pain; you will also discover uncanny pleasures that will sharpen your mythic vision and enrich your creative passion. Congratulations on the upgrade! Pretend for a moment that you are not you but rather your holy guardian angel. What might you say that will mobilize the stalled dreams of your ward? Write:

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