Free Will astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I predict that the next 13 months will bring you invitations to grow in unexpected directions. Will you be alert to them? If so, by July of next year you will have grown tougher but kinder. This will greatly enhance your ability to get what you want without offending people. I also believe you'll have become both more disciplined and less inhibited by then. That will in turn fuel a period of unprecedented creativity beginning in August 2002. Be on the lookout, Aries. The first glimmerings of this well-balanced transformation will appear soon.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Your ring fingers are the least useful parts of your hands, right? Yet much historical lore attributes a special sensitivity to them. In medieval Europe, apothecaries believed their "leech fingers" could detect when mixtures of herbs had harmful qualities. It was also in that era that married couples first wore their wedding rings in the place where everyone does today. Both traditions originated in an even more ancient notion that a unique nerve links the fourth digit directly to the heart. I mention this, Taurus, because your ring finger is a potent symbol right now. As one example of what it should move you to meditate on: A resource you believe to have marginal value may be essential in keeping your sympathy flowing and your feelings thriving.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Most people associate innocence with naïveté. Conventional wisdom regards it as belonging to children and fools and rookies who lack the intelligence and experience to know the tough truths about life. But I propose a different definition, especially designed for your use in the coming weeks. Your innocence, Gemini, will be ripe and sophisticated. It'll be based on a savvy understanding that the world is always changing, and therefore deserves to be seen fresh every day. Your innocence will be fueled by your willful determination to empty your mind of all preconceptions and amp up your love for all of creation. I can't wait to see you tap into your primal reserves of curiosity.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): I was kicking the crap out of my TV the other day (having just zipped through 72 channels without finding a single scrap of decent entertainment), when suddenly I was possessed by the spirit of Lucille Ball. I knew it was she because as soon as she settled in she unleashed her trademark cackle. "Don't kick your TV, Robbie baby," she scolded. "Hug it. Kiss it. Compliment it. Same goes for anything that's frustrating you or disappointing you or making you feel insecure: Don't hurt it. Be nice to it. Heal it, if you can. And by the way, Robbie baby, this advice applies to all of your fellow Crabs as well as you. Tell ’em I said so."

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): "I need moral support, artistic mentors, loyal friends, and spiritual leaders," writes Hannah J., a Leo reader from Philadelphia, "and I need them now!" On the other hand, there's Eric G., a Leo reader from Halifax, Nova Scotia. "Amazingly enough, I really do have all the help I need," he claims. "What I want next are more constructive critics, good competitors who fight fair, loved ones who don't automatically think everything I do is perfect and enemies who inspire me to become better." I have good news for all you Leos: In the coming weeks, you'll have abundant opportunities to benefit from the influences that both Hannah and Eric seek.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Thank you for choosing the world's only advice column designed specifically for gorgeous godlike geniuses such as you. We humbly acknowledge the enormous competition we face for the privilege of serving your spiritual entertainment needs. Before we go on, there is one thing you should know about the sweet, supportive tone we consistently direct your way: While we do go to extreme lengths to counteract the media's portrayal of you as a status-obsessed narcissist driven by petty desires, we never indulge in mere flattery. Our praise is always based on the absolute truth. And when we assert that you have all the resources and free will you need to create the life you want, we are not pandering to your egotism. Indeed, the coming weeks should prove that even our most grandiose estimates of you are too modest.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Libra is rarely the first sign that leaps into an astrologer's mind when he or she thinks about the sexiest signs of the zodiac. Smoldering Scorpios probably come first, then maybe radiant Leos or mysterious Pisceans or electrifying Aries. Librans are often considered too harmonious and balanced to exude erotic unpredictability; too refined and graceful to provoke crazy longing in anyone. But we need to set aside all those biases in the coming weeks: So say the planetary omens. I hereby declare you Libras to be the reigning masters of beguiling love.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Dragonflies and magnolias are living fossils. They've outlived all other species that were their contemporaries when they first came on the evolutionary scene eons ago. I propose that we make them your power animal and lucky flower. Here's my reasoning: You're now being transformed by a series of events that took place long ago, either when you were a child or in a past incarnation. The power and meaning of that big uproar, which lay dormant for years, recently awoke. As of today, this part of your life is like a living fossil. Here's the downside: You're getting dragged back to work on problems you thought were gone. The upside: You'll have a chance to harvest lost truths that'll make you wiser and happier. (P.S. Put images of dragonflies and magnolias on your altar for the duration of the drama.)

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who want someone else to rescue them from their demons and fill up the holes in their souls and those who are committed to rescuing themselves and filling the holes in their own souls. I believe that many of you Sagittarians are now at a crossroads: You're undergoing a self-exploration that'll determine which of the two types you will be for many years to come. I'm sure you know how I hope it all turns out.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): If I were king, everyone would have an inalienable right to ample amounts of food, shelter, clothing, medical care and psychotherapy. Sadly, even the most enlightened crusaders for economic justice don't include that last necessity among the rights worth fighting for. That's why I'm assured a gig for the foreseeable future. For many of my readers, I'm the closest thing to a therapist. They regard me as a compassionate witness who asks them to think, to feel, to do things outside of their usual contexts. As much as I love this role, my dears, I think you may need a more personal version of my services during the coming weeks. Please enlist a pro to gently kick your butt and smartly soothe your heart.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): It's a good week for you to write a 10-page essay titled, "People, Places, and Things I Didn't Know I Loved." To do this project justice, you should wander far and wide, allowing yourself the luxury of getting into good mischief and stirring up high-class temptations. I should add that it'll be important for you to open your eyes and heart wider than usual. One more hint: Act on the assumption that you're now receptive, for the first time, to sources of sweet delight that you never imagined existed.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Mine is just one small voice urging you to give yourself all the slack you need. The nature spirits echo my plea, as do the secret helpers that are working behind the scenes to turn you into the gorgeous curiosity you were born to be. Gaia herself, the living goddess of our planet, would also like you to take a few days off so that you might nurture yourself with more ferocious tenderness. Indeed, the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way have aligned in such a way as to give you a mandate to luxuriate in your sanctuary and temporarily relinquish all ambition; to relax down to the marrow of your bones and align yourself with the rhythms of great mysteries. Homework: If you could change your astrological sign, what would you change it to and why? Write:

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