Free will astrology 

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Would you cover your eyes to shut out the darkness? Of course not. Would you close your mouth to protest injustice? Hell, no. So please, Aries, as your need to be touched grows to fever-pitch intensity, don't stop reaching out. Don’t beg and grovel. But you will end up begging and groveling at a later date if you try to repress your awesome longings now. Adopt the Goldilocks strategy: Find the middle ground between desperation and aloofness.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): What fun is your hard-earned stability unless every once in a while you bite off more than you can chew, dive in over your head and drown your clichés in a flood of outrageously mixed metaphors? I do want to warn you to be a wise fool, not just a fool. Create a stunning new look without shaving off your eyebrows. Visit the land that time forgot, but don't move in yet. Stick your tongue out at the world, but not while a very important primate is checking you out.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Karma, destiny, kismet: Whatever name you give to the mysterious workings of fate, it will soon bring you loads of luck if you reinvent your basic facts of life. It's an excellent time, in other words, to dream up new ways of walking, talking, eating, sleeping, laughing and making love. To feel as freely experimental as you need to, you may have to go to a part of town where no one knows you. It's very important that you not get dragged back to boring reality by people with strong ideas about who you're supposed to be.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Since you first started your reincarnation cycle millennia ago, you've probably never had a more comfy lifetime than your current one. I can understand why you've opted for relative peace and quiet this time around, considering that in your past lives you endured so much in the way of war, poverty, natural disasters and political tyranny. But I fear that maybe you've now gone a little too far in the direction of cozy convenience and soothing snugness. Luckily, inspirational help is on the way. That's because the buried memories of all the explorers, gypsies, eccentrics and mavericks you've been in previous incarnations are now bubbling up from their hiding places in your subconscious mind.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Attention control freaks, authoritarian tyrants and manipulative nice guys who think everyone should be like you: Give it up or else. Attention lack-of-control freaks, willing victims who collude with your tormentors and passive-aggressive whiners who think you're better than everyone else on odd-numbered days and worse than everyone else on even-numbered days: Give it up or else. Attention everyone else, including especially you hard-working, fair-minded people who're always getting squeezed on one side by the control freaks and on the other side by the lack-of-control freaks: Give it up or else.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): During the next six months, I vow to prove to you that astrology is neither a science that can pinpoint the precise path of your evolution nor an irrational belief system that obliterates your free will. Instead, I intend to show that it's a profound art form that can guide your choices by illuminating the hidden and unconscious factors at work in your life. As for what empowering promises you might make to yourself in the second half of 2001, Virgo, I'll suggest that the best way to begin will be to give up your attraction to crystalline certainty. The rest of the year will be about learning to love and thrive on ambiguity, not just tolerate it. Your challenge will be to make confident decisions without relying on tried-and-true formulas.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Five years from now, you may look back at the second half of July, 2001 as the moment when you finally got a definitive answer to the age-old question, "Am I really a brilliant and lovable work of art?" The next few days could turn out to be even more important than the mythic time to come. You've heard that genius is 2 percent inspiration and 98 percent perspiration? If you hope to ride a tidal wave of inspiration in the immediate future, I suggest you sweat an ocean now.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): If you're thinking of trying to push the river to suit your moods and specifications, don’t go about it half-heartedly. Like hire an arsenal of giant bulldozers, for instance. Or appeal to a really skilled shaman to intercede on your behalf with the god of the river. Whatever you do, though, don't worry for a moment about getting inflamed with hubris. To be successful, you'll have to be a lean, mean, disciplined machine that's brimming with an almost over-the-top confidence.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): America's premier eventologist is Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith. One of the 1,200 new holidays she has created is Skeptics' Day, which occurs every Friday the 13th. This week's observance happens to coincide with the most heretical and rebellious phase of your own astrological cycle. I suggest you celebrate with a double dose of freethinking. Summon a strong helping of crisp, clean reason as you question everything you take on faith. And please don't forget to challenge your cynicism. Koopersmith suggests that you especially "examine those issues about which you are most skeptical, and be skeptical toward your skepticism." It's likely that your dark mistrust needs as much rational dissection as your sweet belief.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The question of the week is this: What brand of bath soap will make you feel sexiest and heighten your confidence the most? Just kidding, kind of. ... But it will be a rather lite week, Capricorn. Superficial appearances will count for too much. People around you will act as if boredom were an art form. You may be moved to learn new synonyms for the word "bland." Oh, there could be an apparent breakdown that's actually a breakthrough in your main relationship. And after much love talk disguised as convoluted arguments, you'll hopefully end up pelting each other with roses instead of garbage. But other than that, it'll probably be an excruciatingly normal week.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I urge you to stir up a flurry of self-critique, Aquarius, but not an orgy of self-doubt. The object is to ease yourself out of your unconscious bad habits, not to pummel yourself for honest mistakes. As for which unconscious bad habit you might start with, may I suggest the glitch in the way you balance giving and taking? Fixing it will allow you to attract more love into your life. For inspiration, devour this poem, "The Sun Never Says," by the Sufi mystic poet Hafiz: "Even/After/All this time/The sun never says to the earth/'You owe me.'/Look/What happens/With a love like that,/It lights up the/Whole/Sky."

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): No chickens should be allowed at the love feast you're invited to. No wimps, cowards or sissies, either. We're talking about brave new love here, absolutely free of decisions based on guilt and fear. Please note, however, that "brave" does not mean reckless. Ten brash flirtations with 10 beautiful strangers would require less courage than what you'll need for one tender exploration at the poignant frontiers of intimacy. Every one of us has a secret ignorance burning a hole in our soul. What's yours, and what are you going to do about it? Testify at

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