Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Thank goddess, Aries, that I rarely have to nag you to be brave. Forceful enterprise comes naturally to you. But this week I'll ask you to take inventory of this beautiful capacity. Please check and see if you ever act boldly on behalf of an urge that would be better suppressed or at least questioned. Make sure the motivations that underlie your initiatives are ethically impeccable. Given that your willpower burns so clean and strong, my dear, it's crucial that you safeguard the integrity of its actions.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "A writer who doesn't have a wound that's always open is no writer," mused author Elias Canetti. "He may prefer to hide it if he doesn't want pity; but he must have one." To provide you with the most useful horoscope possible, Taurus, I'll expand upon that thought: "A lover who doesn't have a wound that's always open is no lover." Please don't interpret this masochistically; I'm not implying you should let anyone hurt you, not even a gorgeous soul you adore. No, what I mean is that by making yourself available for the rigors of love, you recognize that at any moment you may have to engage your own darkness and ignorance or else deal in good faith with the darkness and ignorance of someone you love.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): It'll be bad luck to be superstitious in the coming week. Please don't even think about rubbing a rabbit's foot with your left thumb while looking over your shoulder at yourself in the mirror and chanting "I'm foxy, not grumpy" as many times as you can during one long exhale. Or else, if you absolutely can't stop yourself from indulging in your pet mumbo jumbo, at least be aware that it won't help you zero in on your new sweet spot. You'll be able to do that just fine without any appeal to false gods.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Here at the Dionysian Center for the Rehabilitation of the Ecstatically Challenged, where I am the chief imagination officer, we bridge the gap between divine truth and funky common sense. For instance, we teach that you Cancerians should never underestimate how much your spiritual progress depends on you getting good food, dream-rich sleep, nurturing music and love-filled sex. And since your soul seems a bit jangled lately, we recommend that you now treat yourself to large helpings of these necessary delicacies. (P.S. Don't worry about gaining weight. Acquiring a slightly bigger rear end as an anchor may help prevent you from being so easily swept away by your changing moods.)

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): I predict that in the coming week you will not have a hair-raising adventure involving an underground cave and an immortality elixir. You will not sign up to fight as a mercenary in a foreign war or be arrested for smuggling black-market orchids or win a huge bet with an ex-Mafia hit man-turned-New Age guru. No, Leo, I'm afraid that you most likely will not embark on anything so exciting as a life-changing quest. On the other hand, there is a good chance you'll enjoy the simple pleasures with intense glee. People you usually take for granted will awaken your interest; experiences that have become too familiar will surprise and delight you.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): If you want astrological advice on how to be a more eager wage slave or politely efficient social unit, you should read a different horoscope column. Mine is concerned with subtler matters, such as how to open doors for yourself by opening doors for other people. Having said that, I'd be remiss in my astrological duty if I didn't inform you that you now have greater skill than usual in the art of crude materialism. You can probably make a crafty killing in the marketplace. Or steal some lucrative thunder without breaking any laws or hearts. Or attract financial blessings through the power of your generosity. Or all three.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In The Golden Bough, an historical catalogue of magical and religious practices, James Frazer notes that on occasion people have grown sick and tired of their gods’ failure to deliver the desired goods. They may even try to motivate a deity by shaming or abusing him. If the rainbringer has been derelict in his duty, for instance, his statue may be cast out under the hot sun until he shapes up. Given the recent events in your life, Libra, I think you know exactly what I'm talking about. So may I suggest that you raise the pressure on the divinities that have been holding out on you? Start by speaking your prayers more loudly and forcefully. If that doesn't work, hurl a few insults or throw rocks in the direction of heaven. If that doesn't work, fire the old gods and hire some new ones.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): French filmmaker Jean Luc Goddard once noted that "A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end ... but not necessarily in that order." Let this thought be your guide in the coming weeks, Scorpio. It will allow you to shed your expectations about how the drama is "supposed" to unfold. It will prevent you from getting frustrated and will steer you in the direction of more appropriate responses, like amusement and fascination. And it just may inspire you to be so spontaneous that you'll welcome the climax with an open heart, even if it arrives out of nowhere during an apparent lull in the plot. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You're primed for far more thrills, chills and frills than almost everyone around you. While you perfect your role as a fun hog, anxiety vultures may be lurking everywhere. But I predict that as long as you make yourself staunchly immune to their contagious blahs, your quest for crafty rapture won't be denied. And the cosmic signs are clearly suggesting that you do owe it to yourself to exceed the boundaries of civilized repression, not to mention test the boring limits of good taste. Have you considered throwing a Sagittarians-only bash?

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): For singer-songwriter Paula Cole, the creative process has a primal urgency. "It's like when a snake molts," she muses. "My albums are like the molted skins that I've left behind." I trust her description resonates with you, Capricorn. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you should be right in the middle of shedding an identity or creation you spent months refining. I suggest you do it with impeccable enthusiasm and thoroughness. That'll be the best way to attract the inspiration you'll need for your next masterpiece.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In my perfect world, an essential part of every child's education would be remembering and learning from dreams. Dream interpretation workshops would be as popular among adults as watching TV. Why do I feel so strongly about this? Because understanding dreams is the best defense against our instinct to project our own flaws onto other people. When you study your dreams, you have a foolproof way to detect the way you lie to yourself. You can discern the hidden patterns that shape your behavior and that are sometimes at odds with your conscious values. I'm doing a hard sell, Aquarius, because it's prime time to upgrade your relationship with dreams. For inspiration, try these books: Living Your Dreams, by Gayle Delaney and Creative Dreaming, by Patricia Garfield.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): This is a subliminal message. Though your conscious mind won't be aware of what I'm saying, your subconscious will record and remember everything. It's a good thing, too, because if your ego got its hands on the tricky privilege I'm about to authorize, it might be tempted to abuse it. Here goes: You have cosmic permission to tweak rules and traditions that keep you apart from the experiences your soul loves. That means you may tiptoe along the thin line between creative storytelling and outright fabrication. It also gives you the right to act as if the truth is more important than the facts; as if imagination is more trustworthy than knowledge. Where's the place you're half-afraid to travel to even though you know it would change your life forever for the better? Write

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