Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Scientists at the Crazy Wisdom Institute of Applied Surpriseology have discovered the existence of the clown chakra. Located near the sex chakra, it houses the sense of humor and determines one's capacity for spiritually cleansing laughter. It's largely shut down in most people, resulting in a global epidemic of taking things too damn seriously. You have great prospects for success in opening your clown chakras. I suggest you give yourself Clown Act Omnibus, a book by Wes McVicar that tells how to perform 200 clown stunts.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You're always the hardest worker in the zodiac, but in 2001 you've really outdone yourself. I wish I could send you wacky yet meaningful holiday gifts that would hint at the relief and release you have ahead of you. To show my appreciation for your buoyant mastery of minutiae, I'd give you a grain of wild rice with your name written on it. To honor the constructive attitude you've maintained while carrying out demanding midcourse corrections, I'd buy you a captain's hat surmounted by a propeller. To acknowledge how relentless you've been as you've grappled with your shadow, I'd buy you a gold lamé wrestling uniform. To celebrate you for being so practical in your spirituality, I'd write a book for you called How To Start Your Own Religion.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): If I were going to give you holiday gifts that would inspire you to fulfill your potential in 2002, here's what they'd be and why: a magnifying glass to enlarge your capacity to read between the lines; a wooden duck decoy as a hint about how to bag the big game you've been hunting for; a ship's anchor to prod you to be more concrete as you seek greater stability; and lessons in a martial art so as to toughen you up in a way that also relaxes you.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): What would be the perfect present for me to give you? It would be an elegant 18-inch-square, velvet-covered wooden box with nothing in it. Around the outside would be gold foil ribbon on which was written "The Fertile Treasure of Emptiness." I'd hope it might encourage you to reverently purge your mind of all assumptions and expectations as you enter 2002. As I handed it to you, I'd gaze into your eyes and communicate telepathically everything I know about how to render the past irrelevant. Then I'd whisper, "Cultivate a naked, unconditioned, freewheeling hunger for fresh experience."

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Among the gifts you'll receive this holiday season, there may be junk like a Three Stooges talking clock or a video of a fire in a fireplace or a mailbox in the shape of a cow. You're so intense and unfathomable these days that even the people who love you may be stumped about what you'd really like. Show them this horoscope. First, they can give you anything that nurtures your sleep and dreams, like a pillow-top mattress or luxurious sheets or aromatherapy pillows. Second, they can bless you with an iron cauldron or silver chalice or Native American dream catcher to symbolize the receptivity you'll need to build in 2002.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Duplicate this horoscope a few times and slip a copy to everyone who's planning to give you a holiday gift. Then they'll know not to get you stuff that astrologers usually recommend for Virgos, like briefcases and closet organizers and day planners. Rather, they will realize that the very best way to prepare you for 2002 will be to feed your need for education that nurtures your idealism and strengthens your social circle. They might offer you gift certificates to workshops taught by practical visionaries.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): If you really wanted to, you could become a top elephant trainer in 2002. You could be the creator of the world's biggest balloon sculptures or the grower of record-breaking 500-pound pumpkins or the climber of redwood trees higher than the Statue of Liberty. You'll have what it takes to work on a larger scale than ever before. If you're inclined to seek mastery in less physical ways, you'll have just as much success. How about drawing up a 10-year blueprint of your life? I suggest you make yourself a collage of you standing on a mountaintop with a halo as big as a merry-go-round.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Here are a few of the gifts I'd love to get you: a hand-loomed Turkish shower curtain trimmed with precious stones; a mud-cloth journal crafted from Ghanaian textiles and Italian paper; ceramic and silver spice jars from Peru; and a wool patchwork ottoman made from the traditional ground covering used by shepherds in Kyrgyzstan. I'd hope to inspire you to expand your sense of home in 2002; to relax as you extend your reach; to travel far and wide whether or not you ever leave your natural habitat.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If you have any interest in genealogy or the mysteries of your past, 2002 will be a good time to heat up your investigations. Lost relatives will be easier to track down. Missing heirlooms, even long-buried family secrets could erupt into view — both of the dirty variety and the sparkling kind. Wouldn't it be fun if you found out you were a descendant of American Revolutionary War spy Nathan Hale or Mata Hari, the Dutch double agent during World War I? A discovery like that might rouse in you more of the sleuthy qualities that'll be so useful in the coming months. Suggested holiday gift for yourself: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, by Rhonda McClure.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Dinosaurs were sometimes so titanic that they found it difficult to do what was necessary to propagate their species. To appreciate the difficulty, picture a 12,000-pound male triceratops attempting to rise up on his hind legs and balance the top half of his body on a female's back long enough to finish the mating act. Sadly, some humans are so fixated in their romantic habits that their awkwardness with intimacy is almost as severe. Even if you are one of these people, though (and I'm not necessarily saying that you are), 2002 will bring rich opportunities to streamline your approach to love. If I could get you a holiday present, it might be a gift certificate for 10 sessions with a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, plus a pair of plastic toy triceratops with which to enact playful psychodramas.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In my meditations about what holiday gifts you'd benefit from, I keep seeing how crucial it'll be for you to resist and deflect wrong-headed opinions about who you are and how you should live your life. (And I mean your own wrong-headed opinions as well as other people's.) Here is my symbolic present for you: a print of Vincent van Gogh's painting "The Sower," which depicts a farmer dropping seeds in his fields at sunrise. At the bottom of the print I'd write this quote from van Gogh: "If you hear a voice within you saying, 'You are not a painter,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): If I could send you holiday gifts, here's what I'd get and why: a kite bearing an image of a goofy dragon, which I hope would encourage you to indulge in more ferocious frivolity in 2002; a photo of a greenhouse to symbolize the expedited growth you'll be capable of; an Aladdin's lamp to suggest that you'll have unexpected help in conjuring up seemingly impossible breakthroughs; and a little red wagon carrying the treat you were most deprived of in childhood. Tell us what holiday gift you're bestowing on yourself to inspire your journey through 2002 at

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