Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Acupuncturist Susan Meyer regularly kayaks meditatively around San Francisco Bay as she chants her prayers. Recently, a migratory whale joined her, swimming along a few feet away. Though frightened, she continued chanting. The beast accompanied her gently until she paddled back to the beach. To Susan's delight, the same ritual unfolded on each of the next 13 days. The whale became a companion with whom she shared her divine invocations. Ever since this interlude, Susan's ability to diagnose her patients' health problems has risen to a higher level of intuitive precision, as if her healing skills have been augmented by a deep-sea intelligence. Let this story inspire you on a quest for your own animal ally in 2002.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Grasp will be your magic word of power for 2002 — though it could also be your magic word of weakness. If you focus on tuning in to the ever-fresh truth about God's constantly mutating creation, you will latch on to profound new understandings about the meaning of your life and the nature of reality. If you fall prey to the less beautiful meanings of grasp, you will cling and clutch and grab and squeeze way too much — holding on so tightly to your expectations and hopes that you can't see things for how they really are.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Institutions often have a mission statement, a concise description of the impact they want to have on the world and the experiences they hope to give their employees. Develop your own version of this document in 2002. Can you draft a big, well-crafted vision of the life you want to live, and then use it to inform your day-to-day decisions? Go out today and buy a notebook. Write "My personal mission statement" on the cover and "What do I want most?" on the first page, and then let your imagination run wild.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Why did the chicken cross the road? In 2000, your answer could well have been: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before. Throughout this year, you might have offered up something out of the mouth of a surrealist poet: A meditating tuna fish wearing pajamas. In 2002, the most fitting response you can make will be akin to what 19th century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson might have said: The chicken didn't cross the road; it transcended it.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Life will be more than a little like a sword-and-sorcery role-playing game in 2002. Here are some hints to guide you. 1. The beasts of the wheels of time are quite ticklish. That's the key to rendering them harmless. 2. The master codex is hidden in the wall between the hall of mists and the soul kitchen. 3. To hear the celestial trumpet, slip into the magic dump during a full moon. 4. You are the chosen one, but so is everyone else. 5. The frost worm will let you pass if you have a dreamspeaker, a water-cleaner, and a holy squirmer in your party. 6. The pearl of great price is much closer than you think.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Just because supposed experts issue categorical prophecies doesn't mean their words are divinely ordained. Check out these bloopers. "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." —Thomas Watson, IBM chairman, 1943. "Space travel is utter bilge." —Sir Richard van der Riet Wooley, the Astronomer Royal, 1956. "While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility." —Lee DeForest, American inventor (1873-1961). "As usual, Virgos in 2002 will criticize themselves too much, erode their health through needless worry, and obsess on details at the expense of seeing the big picture." —Ari Messner, astrologer, 2001.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You will get more than your 15 minutes' worth of fame in 2002. But how it ultimately plays out will depend on what you do in the next six weeks. If you begin immediately to formulate ingenious plans for bringing your talents into the spotlight, the attention that comes your way will be interesting and valuable. If you're lazy about honing your ambitions, or if you're so hypnotized by celebrity culture that any old notoriety will satisfy you, your renown will be cheap and useless. Would you prefer a big promotion or a spot with Jerry Springer? Here's a secret: Free will is real.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Technological advances in the 15th century spurred Europeans to expand their explorations of the world by sea. Even more important than the astrolabe and compass was the caravel, a new kind of ship. With three masts and a triangular sail, it could make headway against the wind, allowing longer voyages to uncharted lands. I hereby name the caravel to be your power symbol for 2002. The astrological omens suggest you will have an excellent chance to find your personal equivalent of a means to sail against the wind.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Heroes are not just the bold gamblers who rescue people in danger, but also those daredevils who plunge into the abyss of their own darkness in order to transform their unlovely qualities. You have flirted with this kind of greatness in 2001. To become a full-fledged hero, spend the coming months living up to the following description, formulated by German sculptor and writer Ernst Barlach: "The hero has to awaken the sleeping images of the future, which can and must come forth from the night, in order to give the world a new and better face." Head straight into the unknown and fertilize the latent dreams that are hidden in the shadows.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): What metaphorical crops have you harvested these past 12 months? Which of the seeds you planted last January, February, and March sprouted into succulent, fruitful maturity? On the other hand, were there any seeds that turned into spiky, shrunken clumps? What about weeds, pests and predators? Were you vigilant about keeping them away from your beauties? What did you learn about growing things that might guide your work in 2002?

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Think outside the box. My colleague Steven "Rabbit" Mentor suggests that while this is good advice, at times it's more fun and effective to inhabit the box and mutate it from the inside. Rather than making up all new rules, in other words, practice revolution from within: Accept some of the prevailing norms but mess imaginatively with others. A good example is the oracle you're reading. While I adhere to the formal structure of a horoscope column, I also take wild liberties with it. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you will thrive on this method in 2002.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Columnist Thomas Friedman recently described his visit to one of the 39,000 Islamic schools in Pakistan. The largely religious curriculum was designed 300 years ago by a Mogul emperor. Though secular subjects are taught, the pedagogy is antiquated. The science books Friedman saw on the shelves were from the 1920s. You and I may be horrified by this approach, but we each have our personal version of archaic programming. The indoctrination we've absorbed from our own education has filled us with concepts that have only a marginal connection with reality. That's the bad news. The good news: 2002 is shaping up as a time when you can achieve a great liberation from the dogmas and beliefs that keep you moored in the past. Burn a symbol of an experience or situation that you don't want to follow you into the new year. Visit

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