Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Whatever your relationship with nature has been, I suggest you make it more intimate and lyrical. Cruise out into the wilderness — or at least to a park — and let your imagination dream up giddy, uproarious, uninhibited forms of communion. Drink the sun, eat the wind, blow kisses to a flock of birds, canter with madcap glee through a meadow, create a shrine on a large rock, sing a song to a 100-year-old oak or unveil a wish to the moonlight reflected in a puddle after a storm. Be alert for the subtle signals that come back your way from the wild things; notice how your body responds; tune in to the emotions that well up.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): If you allowed fate to take its raw course, you'd become a powerful magnet for both good and bad influences. Luckily, you're reading this horoscope in time to make sure fate doesn't take its raw course. Shut down any attractions you might be harboring for unwise risks or glamorous dead-ends. Don't flirt with phony emotions. Avoid scary movies and put depressing friends on hold. On the other hand, open up your heart wide to creatures and creations that inspire your trust as they awaken your fascination.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Let's hope you're not preparing for a game of hide-and-seek when the show-and-tell marathon begins. Let's assume I'm not being ironic when I say you'll miss the boat if you're waiting at the bus station. Let's do everything possible to make sure you pass up the chickenfeed you're initially offered and hold out for the gourmet soul food. And finally, let's drop broad hints that the best way for you to pass all these stern tests is to not take yourself too damn seriously.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): In the children's fable "The Unicorn and the Lake," by Marianna Mayer, a noble unicorn comes down from his mountain sanctuary to battle a monstrous serpent that has poisoned life in the valley below. With his magical horn, he restores the vitality of the lake. The animals that have grown numb from fear of the evil beast begin to revive. Wherever the unicorn's hooves touch the ground, long-extinct flowers bloom. A similar scenario will soon unfold for you. Although your predicament has never been as desperate as that of the kingdom, you have definitely been in need of a fertile visitation. And here it comes. Imagine now what would be your personal equivalent of the rebirth of an extinct flower.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In the wake of the heartbreak we all suffered on Sept. 11, I committed myself to seven spiritual pledges. At the top of the list was this one: I promise to feel every feeling that surges through me without jumping to conclusions about what it means or how I should act on it. This intention is a good policy not only in times of trouble, but also during any tectonic transition. That's why I'm recommending it to you. It will serve you well as you face the mostly invigorating but sometimes unsettling shifts that are rippling through the foundations of your life. To do it right, you should welcome every emotion that arises as if it were a gift and revelation, even as you exert great patience before deciding what concrete changes to carry out.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Though the Hindu caste system is technically forbidden in India, long-standing custom keeps it in effect. The lowest caste is composed of the untouchables, known as the Dalits ("the oppressed") in the Hindi language. The abuse they endure ranges from violent attacks and hate speech to prohibitions against praying in temples and wearing shoes where the dominant castes live. A climactic event in their ongoing rebellion occurs this week, when one million Dalits formally leave the Hindu religion and convert to Buddhism in a mass ceremony in Delhi. I feel this will serve as a ripe metaphor for you. May it inspire you to abandon any idea or belief system that keeps you subjugated and disheartened.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Do you want your role models to be airbrushed icons of perfection permanently installed on pedestals? Or might you be interested in more soulful sources of inspiration that are a bit messy and fully human? I propose that in your ongoing efforts to seduce heaven all the way down to earth, you seek out flawed heroes and teachers who don't know it all. Now is a good time to intensify your search: During your current astrological cycle, you can harvest rich rewards from being realistic and pragmatic.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The government has criminalized all the chemical compounds of peyote, even though one ingredient, dopamine, is a primary neurotransmitter in the human brain. Our gray matter also produces anandamide, a substance that's nearly identical to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. In other words, your brain is literally illegal. It's probably best, given your outlaw status, that you don't break any more laws of the land. However, there are plenty of other antiquated rules, stupid traditions and vested interests that you can transgress with gleeful impunity. The astrological omens indicate that's exactly what you should do.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): It's uncanny! It's exhilarating! It's proof of what anthropologist Margaret Mead said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Your small personal actions will generate far-reaching ripples in the coming weeks. In labyrinthine ways impossible to trace logically, your generous spirit could diminish fear and prejudice in people you don't even know. Your gutsy refusal to give up after an apparent setback could inspire an acquaintance to go on living. Your discreet decision to serve high principles rather than temporary convenience could save several folks from making big mistakes.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In 1994, my years of meditation reached critical mass, propelling me into a daily round of sweet conversations with the goddess. I basked in divine bliss, harvesting many revelations about the meaning of life and my soul's purpose. Meanwhile, I began making a decent wage after years of poverty; my creativity was thriving, my health perfect, my home comfortable. Only one glitch: I felt guilty about receiving so many blessings. "Why me?" I whined. "Why am I so lucky when so many other people are suffering?" After listening patiently for weeks, the goddess finally responded. "Stop bellyaching, my dear," she said tenderly. "The reason you've been given so much is so that you'll have a lot to give away. Now get cracking." From that day on, I've heeded her advice. This week, I'm offering you the same counsel.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Last week you came very close to an ultimate breakthrough, averting it by the narrowest of margins. I'm afraid you'll have to exert great caution this week if you hope to continue keeping the crowning achievement at bay. The astrological pressure to push you over the top — into loopy, grinning, shameless victory — is overwhelming. If you harbor any phobias about success, stay out of all situations where you could be ambushed with praise and rewards.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In order for you to fulfill your life's mission, where should you direct your love? What influences deserve your smartest passion? Which recipients of your gifts will give back to you the most useful riches? As long as Jupiter is in the sign of Cancer, until the beginning of August 2002, you will have an inside track to uncovering the best answers to these questions. To magnetize yourself to this wisdom, try this exercise. Twice a day for five minutes, visualize yourself holding a large silver cup. Imagine that the most beautiful person you've ever seen is pouring the most delicious drink you've ever drunk into that vessel. It's easy to see fanaticism, rigidity, and intolerance in other people, but harder to acknowledge them in yourself. Do you dare? If so, tell all at

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