Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The renowned Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828) had two different careers. In the first, he produced skillful but tame portraits and pastorals. Sweetness and light were his specialties. Following a healing crisis at age 46, however, he mutated into a searing satirist, painting scenes that ridiculed a corrupt elite and raged against the nightmares of routine human cruelty. Most critics agree he was competent during the first phase but brilliant during the second. I would like to offer up Goya, an Aries like you, as your patron saint for the year 2001. With the energizing planet Mars lighting up your astrological House of Frontiers for an unprecedented six-and-a-half months, you are well-primed for a previously unimaginable breakthrough.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In his book, Letter to Saint Augustine, Haniel Long muses about the lingering traces of old wounds. He writes that when his friend was a boy, "he caught a carp embedded in which were the talons of an osprey. Apparently years before, the hawk had dived for its prey, but misjudged its size. The carp was too heavy to lift out of the water, and the bird of prey was pulled under and drowned. The fish then lived as best it could with the great bird clamped to it, till time disintegrated the carcass, and freed it, all but the bony structure of the talon." I offer this story as a talismanic meditation for the new year, Taurus.

Like the carp, you still carry the remnants of an old attack. Unlike the carp, you now have the means to rid yourself forever of those remnants.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The expansive planet Jupiter will be hanging out in your astrological House of Beginnings from now until next July. The last time it paid an extended visit here was in 1989. Do you recall the new trends you tried to launch back then? I would bet that one of those fresh starts got aborted but is primed to be resurrected in the coming months. What did you not quite have the gumption to pull off 12 years ago, but are ready to do now?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Was last year's Y2K scare just a rehearsal for the real beginning of the millennium? Will humanity soon be blindsided by a global catastrophe that'll return us to the Stone Age? Should we fear the arrival of the Antichrist and a climactic battle between good and evil? Nah. Those scenarios are red herrings that distract us from less sexy but more authentic dangers, like the degradation of the environment and the growing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of selfish old white guys. What problems do you consider the biggest threat to our collective well-being, Cancer? The coming months will be a rewarding time to rethink the relationship between your personal life and the great web of life.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): I recommend that you begin the new year by casting a love spell on yourself. Formulate it in such a way that it will start slowly, build in intensity throughout the winter and spring, then climax next summer. There's no use turning to professionals like me for help in conjuring this abracadabra, by the way; in 2001, no one can match your power to conjure up romantic mojo. I hesitate even to offer suggestions, seeing as how you're the intuitive genius in this matter. However, I will state my belief that the best way to launch the process is to exorcise every last ghost that's still haunting your love life. I also advise you to use the following magic words in your incantations: murmur, simmer, teeming, thrive, delight.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The mountain wouldn't come to you this past year. It did not develop the power to migrate over to where you were, tilt down its craggy peak, and lift you up to the lofty heights. So what are you going to do? Cry and stomp your feet? Give up and sulk, convinced that life is conspiring against you? Personally, I don't think that's the right conclusion to draw. In my astrological opinion, you should stop waiting for the majestic mountain to do the impossible. Go to it, Virgo. Talk to it, sing to it, argue with it — and then climb that sucker with all your might.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Let's explore the etymology of the word "nice." It's derived from the Latin word nescius, or "ignorant," from nescire, "not to know." In 14th century England it was a synonym for "foolish" or "wanton." Nowadays it has a pretty positive, if bland, meaning. I would like to propose, however, that we begin to reassert its darker sense, at least when applied to you Librans. For you, "nice" can unfortunately be a code word for being overly polite, too willing to please, and easy to take advantage of. In fact, here's my vow: In 2001, I'll make it my personal goal to strip you of the curse of being "nice." Your Official Word of the Year will be "feisty."

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A baby girl is born with all the ova she will ever have. They don't begin to do what they were made for, however, until she reaches sexual maturity many years later. I believe there's a similarity between this phenomenon and a development you'll experience in 2001, Scorpio. At the moment of your conception in your mother's womb, you were bequeathed a certain talent that has always lain dormant. Soon it will finally be ready for you to access and express. What is it? For clues, watch your dreams carefully this week.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Most mythic traditions feature a trickster. Both wise and stupid, he is a messy character who can change genders at will. The trickster is renowned for playing pranks on everyone (especially himself), farting at solemn rituals that he himself is conducting and vacillating between benevolent acts of high magic and nonsensical acts that drive everyone crazy. Keep this in mind, Sagittarius, as you read my prescription for your inner child in 2001, courtesy of psychologist Clarissa Pinkola Estés. (cq) "People ask me what to do to help children retain their creative center. And I say let them have experiences that are not totally cleaned up, that are not flattened out. Let them have experiences where spirit can enter — where the trickster can enter."

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): One thread of your destiny in 2001 will resemble the following scenario: You come into a crowded place to do some business but have to take a number in order to be waited on. To your dismay, you get 111 and they have just called out number 32. It means 78 people will have their turn before you. Except that just as you've settled in for a long, boring vigil, a fluke occurs. The number called out after 39 is yours: 111. Perhaps it's a mistake, but so what? Your number has popped up long before you thought it would. Be primed and ready, Capricorn.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): As I meditated on your astrological aspects for the coming year, I kept returning to the German word, Sonntagsfrühmorgenglockenschall. (cq) It's a fully loaded, heavy-duty way to say, "the sound of bells heard on an early Sunday morning." I believe you will embody a similar contradiction in 2001, Aquarius: fresh and bright and buoyant, yet also intense and complicated and weighty. This promises to be, by the way, an excellent formula for pushing your ambitions to a new levels of success.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "I always turn to the sports page first," said Earl Warren, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1953 to 1969. "It records people's accomplishments; the front page, nothing but man's failure." It's in this spirit, Pisces, that I'll work to make your horoscopes like the sports page in 2001. As I relentlessly brainwash you with reports of what you're doing right, maybe you'll come to regard your life as a raging success story. The astrological signs are promising: The energizing planet Mars will be in your House of Self-Command for more than six of the next eight months. Now please imagine yourself picking up a newspaper next September. Open it to the third section and read this headline: "(Your Name Here) Comes from Behind to Snag Intriguing Triumph." Send me a description of your game plan for hunting down happiness in 2001. or Box 150628, San Rafael, CA

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