Free Will astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You remind me of a hippopotamus floating in a river, the top of its head jutting up through water hyacinths. Why? Because you currently possess both brute strength and quirky beauty. You look dangerous but probably won't hurt anyone. Like the hippo, which swims fast but plods along on land, you move at very different rates depending on your milieu. There's one other way you're similar. The hippo's skin glands ooze a reddish secretion that uninformed observers refer to as "blood sweat," but which is really a protective pigment. You, too, seem to be laboring mightily when in fact you're mostly just taking care of yourself with ferocious determination.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "Aborigines openly and unaffectedly converse with everything in their surroundings — trees, tools, animals, rocks — as if all things have an intelligence deserving of respect." So says Robert Lawlor in his book, Voices of the First Day. He adds that the native people of Australia "believe that communication happens primarily on nonverbal levels." Since you now have an unprecedented opportunity to expand your interplay with everyone and everything, Taurus, I suggest you try on the mind-set of the Aborigine.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Your life in the coming week or two may have similarities to journalist Peter Kaplan’s tenure at America's leading newspaper. "Going to work at the [New York] Times," he told Time magazine, "is like getting into a Sherman tank. You can't go more than 10 mph. You can't see anything. But you know you have this enormous power." So how will you use your ponderous clout, Gemini? Given your limited range, what destinations should be your priority? And which of your big visions should you probably divide into small chunks, allowing you to pursue a pragmatically piecemeal strategy?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): "One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness," said novelist Willa Cather. "One only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere." Buddhist researchers Rick Foster and Greg Hicks beg to differ. In their book, How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People, they assert that the main trait of happy people is a serious determination to be happy. In other words, bliss is not an accident but a habit. If you suspect that the more intentional approach may suit you, now is an excellent time to cultivate it like crazy.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Again this week, I have borrowed the oracles of Leo poet John Averill for your horoscope. Of the hundreds he has created, I've chosen those that are astrologically accurate for your immediate future. June 28: Today is the day of the convenient amnesia. June 29: Today is the day of the healing waters of Las Vegas. June 30: Today is the day of the unsettling message from the remote outpost. July 1: Today is the day of casting off the tramp soul. July 2: Today is the day of the catfish gazing at the pink feather. July 3: Today is the day of the hurricane, stalled just off the coast, sleeping, dreaming. July 4: Today is the day of the vision of heaven painted on the head of a nail.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The astrological omens are crying out for you to meditate on the following thoughts. Most of the concepts we use to interpret our experience originated in books written by people who are long gone. That's why philosopher Norman O. Brown says, "The bondage to books compels us not to see with our own eyes; compels us to see with the eyes of the dead, with dead eyes. ... There is a hex on us, the authority of the past; and to exorcise these ghosts is the great work of magical self-liberation." Walt Whitman echoes the theme: "You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the specters in books." Sufi mystic Rumi concludes: "Don't be satisfied with the stories that come before you; unfold your own myth."

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It's always problematic to encourage you Libras to tap into your nonrational wisdom. Some of you mistake nonrational for irrational, and go slightly berserk. And those of you with fine intellects tend to be prejudiced against the unpredictable wonders of the liberated intuition. But I'll take the risk; it's all in a good cause, which is to inspire you to express a noble form of egotism — an enlightened selfishness, if you will. Now please memorize the following gem from George Bernard Shaw: "Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Be big, robust, and vivid. Don't cling to your dignity; shed it eagerly. Seek out fresh twists that stimulate endorphins, sweat and maybe even a little adrenaline. Avoid people who like you better when you're tightly self- controlled. Don't act as if you have nothing to lose; proceed as if you have everything to win. Finally, Scorpio, meditate on this rap from the mystic Andrew Harvey: If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more wonders.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Forget self-help books, hypnosis, 12-step programs, positive affirmations and brazen pleas to God. For a limited time only, and for you Sagittarians alone, there's only one strategy that can precipitate a true cure — to transmute a dark secret in your past into a useful and inspiring asset. It may take more than a New York minute or even longer than a Guadalajara week. But sooner or later, if you're faithful to this healing project, you'll stop being unconsciously or "accidentally" mean to yourself, and you'll exorcise the subliminal pain that covertly saps your ability to claim your birthright.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): You're the only sign of the zodiac that's strong enough to make good use of what I'm about to say. Not only that: The astrological omens suggest you're especially ripe to act on it. Here goes. "The secret of life," declared sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, "is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is — it must be something you cannot possibly do."

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In his book The Art of Pilgrimage, travel writer Phil Cousineau bemoans the tourists who rumble through exotic landscapes "with dull eyes and unexcited imaginations." He recalls "the cruise ships I've lectured on and passengers who never disembarked at Bali, Istanbul, Crete, or the island of Komodo, preferring to stay on board to play cards or watch old videos." Let this serve as your warning beacon in the next two weeks. As tempting as it might be to sleepwalk through the wonders that will be revealed, please stay awake with all your might.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In the course of my life, I've been deeply in love with seven women. My mere infatuations, on the other hand, number a gaudy 35. What about you, Pisces? Please meditate on how these two types of attraction have played out for you during the past 10 years. You're likely to face a major showdown between mere romantic obsession and the real thing in the second half of 2001. My preference is that you'll opt for the latter. It may kindle more slowly and require more hard work than you usually associate with love, but the rewards will be 100 times more valuable than the transitory inflammations. Pretend to be something you're not — just for fun, and without doing any harm — and then report your results to

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