Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Picture thousands of drooling fans shrieking in adoration as a 30-foot high image of you appears on a video screen. If you'd like this to be a part of your future, put $20 in an envelope and send it to me. Did you fall for that? I was being a devil's advocate, testing to see if you're ready to make wise use of the new fuel that's becoming available for the fire in your belly. Now picture a group of smart, interesting cohorts gazing upon you with appreciation as one of them tells you how much they appreciate the way you've improved your ability to follow through on your bright ideas. If you'd prefer that to be your future, put $20 in an envelope and mail it to yourself.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You are bearing down on the gas pedal and pumping the brakes at the same time. I recall two passages from Clarissa Pinkola Estes' book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. 1. "There is never a 'completely ready,' never a really 'right time.' As with any descent into the unconscious, there comes a time when one simply hopes for the best, pinches one's nose and jumps into the abyss." 2. "Even if you are halfhearted, irreverent, didn't mean to, didn't really hope to, don't want to, feel unworthy to, aren't ready for it, you will accidentally stumble upon treasure anyway."

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Angels are ugly as sin. So says biblical scholar Dr. Andrew Clavisch after interviewing 3,450 people who claim to have had a personal encounter with the heavenly beings. Quoted in the Weekly World News, Clavisch says that it's rare to see an angel with perfectly styled blond hair, an underwear model's physique and smooth, glowing skin. Most are unkempt, rather homely and have the fashion sense of a computer nerd. I'm calling this to your attention because you might miss the divine intervention coming your way if you expect it to be stylish and shining. Be open to miracles delivered in very plain packages.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Delicious seductions are likely to snake into your sphere in the coming weeks. You may be invited to play in the dark with sweet-smelling teasers. You could be tickled by tricky shape-shifters and delightfully conned by entertaining mythmakers. Should you surrender to the strange intrigues? It's not my place to answer that for you, but I do know this: You can't get the goodies you want from other people until you first learn to give them to yourself.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The voices in your head have laryngitis, but they're spouting their cracked advice with even more crazed insistence than usual. Your tender psyche is telepathically porous to the thoughts and feelings of people around you. The images of your mother and father have been hounding your dreams with more than their normal quota of critical judgments. There dwells within you a riotous crowd of kibitzers, all of whom imagine they know what's best for you. Tell them politely to shut up so you can hear yourself think.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The virgin holding a sheaf of grain is an accurate but limited totem for Virgos. Let's conjure up an additional mascot or two. How about the cat? Shamanic researcher Nicki Scully describes it as a master of self-love, a skill you should cultivate relentlessly in 2002. The swan is another possibility. Scully says it's a symbol that helps unify the goals of your conscious ego and your subconscious soul. No work will be more important than that in the coming year. A third candidate for your new mascot is SpongeBob SquarePants, (cq) the TV cartoon sponge who lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea and bowls everyone over with his irresistible optimism. I dare you to carry his picture in your wallet.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): My pal Elizabeth had to take her python, Shiva Luna, to the vet. The creature's lung infection had recurred. Elizabeth cringed as she visualized the treatment ahead for her beloved pet. Last time the vet had plunged a painful probe deep into its innards to obtain a tissue sample and determine the precise treatment. But as Elizabeth drove Shiva Luna to the appointment, a miracle occurred: The snake unleashed a big sneeze. Thinking quickly, she scooped up the snake snot in a tissue and minutes later offered it hopefully to the vet. "Perfect!" the doc exclaimed. "This specimen makes the probe unnecessary." Now here's the applicable metaphor for your life: Your body's wisdom will save you, in the nick of time, from unnecessary suffering.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): What have you done lately for the environment? Have you fought to bolster clean-water laws, lobbied against the toxic habits of corporate polluters or raised your friends' awareness about the rapid rate of extinction? You will generate many selfish benefits by stoking your passionate concern for the health of our collective habitat. 2002 will also be prime time for you to become extra conscientious about your personal habitat. Consider making plans to feng shui your home, treat your body with wild kindness and summon all your creative artistry to spruce up your wardrobe.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Find a giant turtle whose back you can dance on. Burst into a New Age workshop and shout, "Rainbows suck!" Be alert for the chance to exchange pleasantries in a checkout line with the mistress of a spy. Test to see if people are really listening to you by asserting that Karl Marx was one of the Marx Brothers. Once you've got all that excitement out of your system and are more in the mood to do boring stuff that's good for you, I recommend that you do a meticulous analysis of your financial situation and come up with a 10-point plan to upgrade it.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Will a big storm strand you at a fast-food restaurant, where you will meet a person who has much to teach you? Nope. A meteor won’t strike your workplace, spurring you to fantasize about improving your job situation. A rash of solar flares won’t cause massive electromagnetic disturbances, subtly altering your brainwaves and inspiring you to write a thoughtful letter that will forever change a relationship you've been neglecting. Forces of nature won't intervene to bring about any of these interesting personal developments. I suggest you induce them under your own power.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Let's count your blessings. While it's true that you were recently obligated to launch an expedition to hell, you haven't had to go all the way down to the lakes of burning plastic in the ninth level or the rains of gangrenous maggots in the eighth level or the circular arguments and bad sex with ex-lovers in the seventh level. The only truly painful part of your trip has been the salt that got rubbed in your wounds. And that isn't so bad considering that the salt has acted as a cleanser and purifier. I'm ready to welcome you back to the bright, cheery surface. Or is it so interesting down there that you want to hang out a while longer?

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Do you want to live to be 101? If so, your experiences of the coming weeks will be important in that quest. A window to immortality will open for a short time — but plenty long enough for you to gather priceless clues concerning your own potential longevity. I hope you're not under the mistaken impression that I'm exaggerating or speaking metaphorically. That would mean you're too much of a rational adult to benefit from this oracle. In order to gaze upon the looming fountain of youth, you must be able to see with the eyes of a ripening, excitable teenager. If the average janitor in Bangladesh were to trade places with you now, he'd think he'd been transported to paradise. What aspects of your life would he be most envious about? Write to

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