Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Last June, a rickety raft carrying 42 destitute African refugees washed ashore on a posh nude beach in Spain. Visualize that scene, Aries. It will serve as an apt metaphor for your life in the coming week. A forlorn, vulnerable part of your life will come face to face with a luxurious, beautiful part. And what will unfold in the wake of this juxtaposition? Let’s hope it will be similar to the scene in Spain, where the naked sunbathers leaped into action and got help and care for the refugees.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "Beginner’s mind" was originally a Zen practice. Many artists and thinkers now use it to stimulate their creativity. To achieve this blessed state, you dispense with all your preconceptions and enter each situation as if you’re seeing it for the first time. "In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities," wrote Shunryu Suzuki in his book, *Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,* "but in the expert’s there are few." As much as I love beginner’s mind, though, I have an even more important assignment for you this week, Taurus: Cultivate a *beginner’s heart.* Approach every encounter with love as if you’re feeling it for the first time.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): While visiting relatives in Fort Collins, Colo., I borrowed a ten-speed and rode down the most delightful urban bike path in the world. As I pedaled for miles past parks, wetlands, and fields of wildflowers, I felt gratitude for the visionary planners who had created such a sanctuary in the midst of a city of 120,000 people. I hope you can be like that bike path in the coming week, Gemini: a source of relaxing beauty at the heart of the hubbub; a calming yet inspiring influence that motivates the people around you to act with maximum integrity.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Staring into my computer screen is not necessarily the best way to get inspired for the task of creating your horoscope. After analyzing the astrological omens, I often wander out into nature in quest of inspiration. Today’s jaunt took me all the way to Mt. San Pedro, a place I’d never explored before. Upon reaching the top, I found a panoramic vista that revealed three of the bridges that cross San Francisco Bay. As I surveyed those monumental connecting links, my intuition turned to you. A sudden breeze came up, and I heard a voice in my head say, "It’s weaving time for the Crabs. Tell them to splice and unify and join together."

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In 2001, Mitzi Nichols of Virginia Beach anonymously donated one of her kidneys to a stranger. She got paid nothing for this rare act of generosity, and, after recovering from surgery, went back to her job as a cashier at a gift shop. It took the universe three years to figure out a way to compensate her properly. This past June, she won $500,000 in the Virginia state lottery. I believe you’re in a phase, Leo, when your acts of no-strings-attached largesse will generate karma similar to what Nichols set in motion three years ago. Like her, however, your rewards may not arrive right away, and they might come from sources with no apparent link to the recipients of your kindness.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your life will always be unfinished business, Virgo. From now until the day you die many years hence, you will be a work in progress. There will never come a time when you have everything figured out. I urge you, therefore, to find a way to feel at peace with this incompleteness — or better yet, to love and celebrate it. Luckily for you, the coming weeks will bring you some of the sweetest, juiciest imperfections ever.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Creativity expert Roger von Oech takes issue with the old saw that a chain is no stronger than its weakest links. He thinks they’re indispensable. "Many systems have weak links designed into them," he says. They’re called ‘fuses.’ When a system gets overloaded, the fuse blows and saves the rest of the system." Judging from the astrological omens, Libra, I’m pretty sure you’ll soon get to play the role of a fuse yourself. Whatever group or structure you’re part of needs to break down for the sake of its long-term health — and you’re the best candidate to lead the way.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): *New York Times* rock critic Jon Pareles bemoans the withering of the Beastie Boys’ comic feistiness. As they’ve become politically aware, the white hip hop artists have toned down their shameless troublemaking. Now the fun is almost gone. Pareles says it has been "like having the Three Stooges decide they want to become a panel of appellate judges." I wonder if it might have been possible for the Beastie Boys to evolve a more compassionate outlook without losing their scandalous spunk. I pose a similar question to you, Scorpio: Can you imagine becoming both kinder and wilder?

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): It’s time for you to intensify your levels of Sagittariusness — to become even more of a Sagittarius than you’ve ever been before. Here are a few tips on how to proceed. 1. Always keep your basket overflowing with options. 2. Don’t laugh unless you really mean it, and then unleash a belly laugh. 3. Embrace optimism for both its beauty and its tactical advantage. 4. Be fiercely allergic to fraud and injustice. 5. When pursuing a goal, crank open your peripheral vision and be prepared to get from A to Z in an A-J-C-X-E-Q-R-B-Z fashion. 6. Know how to have fun even when life sucks.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The astrologer Forest Fickling did a statistical study of 50,000 people, analyzing the data to determine which signs were the best and worst in various categories. He found that Capricorns work the hardest, accomplish the most in the shortest time, and daydream the least. But I hope you’ll rebel against these natural inclinations in the coming weeks. Between now and September 16, I think you’ll achieve the greatest success possible if you daydream a lot more and don’t work as hard as usual.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Soon I’ll begin my annual pilgrimage to the world’s wackiest utopia, the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. It refreshes my spiritwith its absence of money, advertisements and commerce. The temporary community of 30,000 people is run as a gift economy. Nothing is for sale. When goods and services are exchanged, it’s because they’re given freely. I wish that you, Aquarius, could experience the unprecedented relaxation that settles in when you’re utterly free of being hustled. I especially wish you could do this now, when you have a prime astrological opportunity to reinvent your relationship with money. If you can’t make it to Burning Man, what else might help you in this noble task?

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): It’s your unbirthday season, Pisces — that upside-down, backwards, yet oddly full-of-grace time halfway between your last birthday and your next. I can’t buy each of you an unbirthday present, but if I could, it would be a gift certificate to the Pirate Supply Store in San Francisco. There you could buy Jolly Roger flags, eyepatches, plundered treasure chests, tubs of lard (good for hair-styling and skin moisturizing as well as cooking) and a broadside featuring the text, "The Journey of the Fishes Overland." Believe it or not, all these would be quite practical. They’d inspire you to cultivate a devil-may-care mood perfect for your unbirthday season. (A Web version of the store is at, and no, I don’t get a kickback.) Here’s this week’s homework: If you’ll be at Burning Man next week, come wash your own brain with me at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, at Planet Wow, located at 3:30 and

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