Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): "Welcome home," the festively clad greeters blessed me as I entered the Burning Man festival last August. In one sense it was ironic: I would spend a mere week in a temporary community erected in an inhospitable desert environment. But it was also profoundly appropriate. Surrounded by smart weirdoes who shared my values, stimulated by endlessly fascinating art and music, I had finally found my power spot. Visualize your own version of this homecoming. What conditions would render you thrillingly relaxed and gracefully aligned?

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The persimmon tree outside my door has shed all its leaves, but a riot of bright orange fruits hangs starkly from its gray-brown branches. Down the street, the pomegranate tree's withered leaves lie in heaps on the ground, but its dark red globes also remain. I love the way these two rebels defy winter's frigid dormancy, beaming their radiant sweetness through the sun's wan light. They remind me of your ripe and fertile beauty blooming amid fallowness. Be extra buoyant as you share all that good stuff with your fellow creatures in the coming weeks. The favors will be returned in February and March.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In her San Francisco Chronicle column "The In Crowd," Leah Garchick reported on gay actor Ian McKellen's ongoing efforts to purge an ugly pathology from the world's best-selling holy book. Whenever he checks into a hotel that provides a Gideon Bible, he rips out and throws away the part of Leviticus that reads, "If a man lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they should be put to death." According to my reading of the astrological omens, Gemini, you should be inspired by McKellen's purification campaign in the coming months. Choose a political or moral issue that rouses your wisest passion. Then fight for it with relentless ingenuity.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Plants raised in a greenhouse grow faster and are more lush than their wild counterparts. Cows fed synthetic hormones are fatter and produce more milk. But the greenhouse plants are healthy and good for the people who enjoy them, while the hormone-augmented cows often get sick and produce tainted milk. In the coming year, you will experience expedited growth. Whether it turns out to be like the plants or cows will depend on your free will: How will you craft your relationship with abundance?

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): To paraphrase George Orwell, "Those who don't study the past are doomed to repeat it." Meditate frequently on this wisdom during the next six months. You will be blessed with a host of opportunities to graduate from lessons that have been dragging on for years. For best results, review your entire life history at least three times between now and your next birthday. Each review will require you to do nothing else for a day or two. But it's one sure way to discern the ancient, moldy patterns that you urgently need to shed.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I was invited to a late-night party at a rural estate two hours from my home. At first the trip was simple enough. My host's clear directions led me through a number of turns down country roads. But the last five miles snaked me through shadowy forests along a twisting, constantly forking one-lane road. Determined not to get lost, I stopped the car every few hundred yards and found a long stick to plant upright in the roadside mud as a marker. I felt like Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail of breadcrumbs through the woods so they could find their way home. Refer back to this story regularly in 2002. Your journey will be upliftingly transformative as long as you never lose track of where you are.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The official cosmetics bag of the 2002 Winter Olympics is Robert Talbott's mint green silk model. When the athletes cry in victory or defeat, they will turn to limited-edition UltraSoft Pocket Packs to dry their tears: Kleenex is the official tissue supplier. If it were within my power, I would arrange for your tribe to be the official zodiac sign of the winter games. With the expansive planet Jupiter holding court in your astrological house of command in the coming months, you folks are likely to be at the height of your power, skill and renown. I predict that a disproportionately large percentage of Olympic medal winners will be Libras.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The cosmic powers have an amusing challenge in store for you in 2002. But don't worry, I'll be laughing with you, not at you, as I watch you wrestle with your dual assignment: First, learn how to be innocent again, only on a higher, smarter level than you were earlier in your life. Next, figure out how you can sincerely muster a fresh, updated capacity for having faith. The new models of both innocence and faith must not be anything like your old ones. You can't cultivate an ironic or distanced relationship with them. They have to work well for the deep, complex, discriminating person you have become.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Many Sagittarians I know have been keeping a kind of "soul mate vigil" recently. Those who already have spouses and lovers seem forever agitated about whether the one you're with is really, truly The One. The unattached are dangerously close to chronic drooling and acts of desperation. If you don't watch it, you'll find yourself standing on a corner one night asking every halfway decent-looking passerby, "Are you my soul mate?" Here's my advice: The sooner you can reach a state of mind in which you'd sincerely feel just fine about being alone and celibate, your soul mate mystery will be resolved.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Is it possible to find nourishment in sources you're partly allergic to? Can you draw inspiration from influences that have a bite to them? To nudge you in the direction of solving these riddles, I refer you to the following passage in National Geographic: "How can bee-eater birds swallow their prey without getting stung? Before swallowing a bee, a bee-eater bird (Meropidae) pounds or rubs the insect on a branch to remove the venom and stinger."

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You've never eaten the fish called menhaden. It's crammed with small bones and tastes bad to humans. For commercial fisheries in the U.S., though, it's of central importance, comprising 40 percent of all fish caught: It's a major source of food for chickens, pigs and cattle. It’s a key part in the diet of many other fish, including seven that people dine on. The species has a central role in the food chain, and that's why marine biologists are alarmed at the rapid decline of its population. (This comes from the September 2001 issue of Discover magazine.) I offer this situation as a prime metaphor for you in 2002. What crucial element in your life do you underestimate? How might it need your extra attention?

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Meditation exercise: Imagine that human cloning has been perfected. Not only that, it's legal and cheap. You decide it's an adventure you want to take. The catch is that the new version of you will be an infant. In order for your Mini-Me to fulfill its vast potential, you'll have to raise it with a spirit of love that's far more resourceful and constructive than the guidance you received during your own upbringing. Visualize in vivid detail how that would feel. Then spend the next 12 months giving the exact same sweet care to your actual present-time self. Make a list of your anti-resolutions. Send them to

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