Free will astrology

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): It's not a good time to buy stuff made in Indonesian sweatshops by young boys who're paid 25 cents a day. I mean it's never a good time to do that, but this week the karmic repercussions would be even more severe than usual. Same goes for being angry at the wrong targets, trying to slip by with a slight lack of integrity or nursing fantasies about how unfairly you've been treated. You not only can't get away with any of it, you'll most likely be punished disproportionately. So be nice, Aries. Be as kind and sweet and loving and helpful as you've ever been. Force yourself if necessary. Oddly enough, the karmic rewards for magnanimous behavior will also be unusually large and immediate.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Howling the ecstatic poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi while parachuting to earth would be good for your soul, as would bowling while wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. Other spiritually rejuvenating activities: meditating naked under a waterfall, making love in a tree house, creating a royal crown for yourself out of a shower cap and lightbulbs, and finger painting your life story. Why, you ask? How could the cosmic omens possibly suggest such unusual behavior? Let me say for the record that God is by no means committed to the transitory cultural conventions of our brief slice of history. He is tricky and experimental and — most of all — loves to keep things moving. If you want to be more like him, especially this week, imitate his fun-loving, revolutionary attitude.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Strictly speaking, the sweet spot is the place on a tennis racquet or baseball bat where you get best results when striking the ball. But I'd like to expand the term to include the astrological phase you're now in. You've arrived at the sweet spot, baby. From this vantage point, you can do no wrong. Or if you do make a "mistake," it will precipitate wonderful coincidences. Here in the sweet spot, you are the embodiment of all that's melodious, delicious, and aromatic. Yum, yum.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Seeing double? I hope so. Deuces will be extremely wild this week. Contradictions will be sneakily helpful, and substitutes may turn out to be better than the originals. Your patron patron saint saint will be a musician friend of mine named Robin Robin. She's a bisexual, ambidextrous, double-jointed shaman with a masters degree in physics, and has mastered the exotic technique of singing two tones simultaneously. I'll pray, my fellow Cancerian, that you will have her skill at going both ways. It'll be invaluable when you come across two excellent double-or-nothing gambles.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): If you were a sperm bank baby, the coming weeks will be a good time to track down your Dad. If you were raised by wolves in the forest, I suggest you return to your old haunts and hang out a while with your original tribe. If you're the reincarnation of a 15th-century Irish scullery maid, it's a perfect moment to make a pilgrimage to the castle where you slaved away so many years. Once there, you should scrawl graffiti on the walls you once scrubbed, bragging about how far you've come. In conclusion, Leo, explore where you came from so you can update your memories. This is the key to unlocking your future.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Launching a new ship, are you? If and when you christen it, please make sure the champagne bottle actually shatters against the hull. If it's intact after your first swing, then keep smacking it until it does. In suggesting this, I don't mean to give credence to the superstitious tradition that it's bad luck for the glass not to crack. Let's just say that smashing the bottle will be a decent symbol for a profound psycho-spiritual truth: Before embarking on a journey in a virgin vessel, it's often wise to break an old container.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I don't like the term "bitch-slap." Everything about it is offensive to me, from its reference to a violent act that pimps use to keep their whores in line to its gratuitous use in comedy sketches and rap songs. Nevertheless, I am going to appropriate it for your needs. There is a part of you, you see, that needs a rather extreme form of therapy right now. This lazy, perverse aspect of your personality seems willing to prostitute itself for the sake of a goal that is ultimately not worthy of you. You are selling yourself too cheaply, my dear. You are devaluing your talents. Which is why I am hereby asking your fairy godmother or guardian angel to give you a spiritual version of a bitch-slap.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): After a long struggle, Norwegian Muslims recently won permission to proclaim "God is great" from a loudspeaker atop the World Islamic Mission mosque in Oslo. Shortly thereafter, atheists in that city were granted the right to electronically amplify their most cherished mantra, "There is no God," from a nearby building. I bring this up, Scorpio, in the hope that it will inspire you to pump up the volume of your own communications — especially those messages you regard as essential expressions of who you are.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Scientists recently produced a "working draft" of the human genome — an instruction manual detailing how the body is put together. I'm proud to be part of a civilization that's smart enough to accomplish this feat, which some experts compare to the invention of the wheel. But I'm even more excited by a project that's afforded considerably less fanfare: deciphering what depth psychologist James Hillman calls the "soul's code." If you're interested in delving into your own spiritual genome, Sagittarius, this is a perfect time to do so. Here are questions to guide your investigation: What is the blueprint of your assignment from God? What mission did you come here to carry out? How did the seed of your destiny reveal itself when you were young?

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): If you threw a message in a bottle into the sea this week, chances are good you'd get an intriguing response from the other side of the world. Your range is breathtakingly vast, Capricorn; your influence is surprisingly far-reaching and your wild impulses are curiously productive. But that's not all. I also believe you'll be able to extract much more than the usual amounts of pleasure, insight, and nourishment from every little daily experience. The depth of your resourcefulness will match the wide sweep of your vision.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Near the end of a walkabout through Germany's Black Forest in November 1978, I had a startling vision. I'd been sleeping outside and eating nothing but apples and brown bread for three weeks. My brain was scoured clean and my whole body surged with an erotic pantheistic strength. Gazing up to the top of a leafless ash tree, I seemed to see hovering there in the gray sky a silvery winged creature resembling a cross between Joan of Arc and Lucille Ball. "In the ninth month of the year 2000," she murmured, "you must deliver to Aquarians this wonderful news: They will have a joyful opportunity to cure the ignorance that if unchecked would many years later be the source of their death."

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "I come from a rich family," begins a Vietnamese folk poem translated by Linh Dinh. "To marry me, my parents will demand/That you bring a hundred bolts of embroidered silk,/One hundred rubies,/twenty-eight stars,/Two hundred bamboo trunks,/Nine vats of honey,/Ten baskets of rolled rice, ten hampers of sticky rice,/Seventy thousand goats, nine jugs of bubbly wine,/Banyan leaves plucked under a full moon/Fresh fly livers, mosquito fat and ninety widowed bats./These are the conditions that will satisfy my heart." After you read this several times, Pisces, I'd like you to compose your own version. What tremendous gifts should your lovers or potential lovers bestow upon you in order to satisfy your heart? Use your imagination and don't feel an ounce of guilt or inhibition. It's time to know — and to say — exactly what you're worth. Homework: Go outside after midnight, make two fists, and punch the sky 10 times while you bellow, "Hey God, listen up! I'm gonna fight for what's rightly mine!" Visit

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