Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I can't believe how many people suffer from the delusion that being creative is mostly a whole lot of fresh, spontaneous, exuberant fun. Now and then it is like that, certainly. But more often it's about hard work, trial and error, and long hours spent musing and agonizing. Can you guess what part of your creative cycle you're in now, Aries? Yup: smack in the middle of the slave-away-in- a-good-cause phase; the do-it-with-all-your-might-even-though- you-can't-imagine-what-good-will-come-of-it phase. Devote yourself to this labor with earnest faith and you'll be well-rewarded in a few weeks.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The astrological omens say it's high time to recommit to your relationship with the most important person in your life. That's why I urge you to write a love letter to yourself. Make it a minimum of five pages, please, and don't you dare inhibit your tender praise for fear of feeling like a selfish, egotistical narcissist. (Rest secure in the indisputable fact that everyone alive is a selfish, egotistical narcissist.) Once you've poured your heart out into this ultimate mash note, you'll be in the right mood for the next step: Get yourself a beautiful, thoughtful gift that symbolizes a secret promise you will make to yourself.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Your feelings are stronger than sin these days, so who cares if they're right or wrong, right? Wrong! I mean right! I mean I don't know! Yours is not to wonder why, yours is just to laugh and cry — maybe even at the same time! Rarely in the history of your tribe has a flood of primal emotion so completely drowned out the perky chatter of your mind! What a fantastic opportunity this is to violate all unnecessary taboos and blow away every last shred of false dignity! Think you can handle it? Nah, of course you can't. That's what's going to be so fun about it all. So honk if you love being blinded by the light! Wink with manic glee every time you're visited by another cosmic joke! Oink whenever you're rendered speechless!

CANCER (June 21-July 22): I'm taking the liberty of quoting from my unpublished book, The Macho Feminist Bible. The passage in question happens to be perfect advice for you to keep in mind during the coming week. "It's not the meek who shall inherit the earth, but rather the well-disciplined pleasure-seekers who have balanced the masculine and feminine sides of their own natures and mastered the fine arts of working at their play and playing at their work."

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Don't launch a flirtatious correspondence with a prison inmate this week, Leo. For that matter, don't eat any fugu, or blowfish, the Japanese delicacy that sometimes contains deadly poison. And please avoid conducting seances in which you summon the spirits of evil stepfathers, the devil's cronies or psychotic tyrants you think might be interesting to talk to. No, my dear, pick safer risks. Make smarter gambles. I'm all for you trying out unpredictable adventures you've never dared before, but make sure they're certifiably constructive and worthy of your time.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In a famous experiment, a therapist hypnotized 20 art students and suggested to each of them that they had been Rembrandt in their past lives. Following this "artificial memory" transplant, 17 of the students showed dramatic improvement in their artistry. This week we'll conduct a similar undertaking. Now please begin to relax. Let all tension flow out of you. Breathe deeply. Feel every cell in your body purr with luminous calm. Imagine that you're living in your previous incarnation as the explorer Marco Polo. Visualize in vivid detail what it feels like to be a pioneer who's willing to go to the ends of the earth to quench his lust for fresh perceptions and novel encounters.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Looks like your spirit guides have conspired with all the people in your life to cook up a mind-wobbling, libido- unleashing, legend-making adventure. If he were still alive, myth-master Joseph Campbell would no doubt have given you a seal of approval for the quest you're tackling. In light of that, I'll give old Joe the last word: "The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors and deluding images up into the mind — whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives."

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): It's time for your interview, Scorpio. Let's get right to it. Me: "What subject do you talk about when you want to captivate the imagination of a very important person?" You: "I talk about the person whose imagination I want to captivate." Me: "How do you prove how smart you are in the way you love?" You: "Before I ask anyone to change their attitude or behavior, I first change myself in that exact way." Me: "What's the skill that you're destined to be a master of, even though it's difficult for you to learn?" You: "Knowing the difference between fanatical obsession and supple passion."

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I don't care what you feel this week, as long as you don't feel nothing. Get inflamed with greed or sadness or impossible longing or a fixation with justice, but don't you dare submit to apathy or numbness. You can't afford to be cut off from the sources of your secret self, even if it means having to navigate through the chaos that keeps those sources fresh. The strangely beautiful fact of the matter, Sagittarius, is that if you're willing to go through hell, you won't have to go through hell. So promise me you won't get tricked into believing there's something noble about assuming a poker face. Be a wild thing, not a mild thing.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): My statistical studies show that Capricorns are the least likely, of all the signs, to consult my horoscopes. It's no coincidence that your sign also ranks last among the percentage of people who choose to become circus clowns. What's the connection? Well, appreciating my take on astrology requires a deep commitment to not taking yourself too seriously. My oracles propose that the only truth and power worth having are those built on a willingness to laugh at everything you passionately believe in. Now it so happens that this is a perfect moment for you to try out this approach — and to convert other Capricorns to the cause.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): New York magazine recently presented evidence that VIPs receive perks unavailable to regular folks. It seems instructors at a certain yoga school in New York give inordinate attention to their students Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, neglecting less-famous classmates. Bucking this trend, I'm proud to say I show no such favoritism. This week's horoscope, as always, is unaffected by my fawning admiration for Aquarian celebrities including black emancipationist Frederick Douglass, radical defender of democracy Thomas Paine, music revolutionary Bob Marley, trailblazing feminist anthropologist Marija Gimbutas and pioneer sexologist Havelock Ellis. My oracle for stars such as them is the same as it is for you: Work on liberating the world later; right now, release your heart and soul from bondage.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "Speak in briefer sentences about simpler things," scolded a reader in a recent e-mail. "I'm exhausted by your exotic ideas and vivid language. Normal people want practical advice spelled out literally." I wrote back to thank her for her feedback and tell her she's dead wrong. Normal people, I said, desperately need subtle truths that aren't filtered through the dumbing-down machinery of the huge media conglomerates. Besides, if it's even possible to achieve simplicity in our overwrought age, it certainly can't be won by studying regurgitated cliches that ooze conventional wisdom. No. I will not speak in generic monotones. Especially for you this week, Pisces. You'll have to be ingenious and complex if you hope to keep your life from being denatured by the mass delusions that have infected folks in your vicinity. Give an example from your own life of the wisdom of this advice: "Don't disguise yourself like a peanut in the presence of rogue elephants." Write to

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