Free Will Astrology

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you've been to a poetry slam, you know that sensitive lyrics in praise of beauty and love are rare. Far more common are vehement diatribes cursing injustice and hypocrisy. But that's not the kind of self-expression I encourage in you this week. Pragmatic idealism is your keynote, and so I'd love to see you spout streams of visionary consciousness, fountains of gorgeous truth, tidal waves of feisty hope. Instead of a poetry slam, stage an "I Have a Dream" Slam. Get a copy of Martin Luther King Jr.'s original speech, and make it your inspiration as you whip up your own description of paradise.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "I am an invisible man," says the African-American hero of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. "When [people] approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me." I think you've lived through a similar experience lately. Your feeling of not being seen hasn't been as intense as that of a black man in America before the civil rights movement, but you can't and shouldn't put up with it any longer. Do whatever it takes to make yourself more visible.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Us Magazine reported that Gemini funnyman Drew Carey recently had a showdown with censors. ABC, the TV network that carries "The Drew Carey Show," demanded that he alter an upcoming script in which airport security guards were portrayed as fools. The needs of homeland security, it seems, require certain targets to be off-limits to humorists. Carey bitched and complained, but in the end he buckled. He's got a great gig and didn't want to blow it. This is the exact blend I advise you to adopt in the coming weeks. Trumpet your true values, but not so loudly that you become deaf to compromises that'll preserve your long-term happiness.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Your assignment is to concentrate on solving problems that have simple, definitive solutions. You need a break from fuzzy truths and ambiguous experiences. Buy a fourth-grade math workbook and do some of the exercises every day. Accustom yourself to the joy of knowing that sometimes there really is just one right answer.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In Kevin Smith's movie, Dogma, pop singer Alanis Morissette played God. Anthony Quinn was Zeus in the TV show "Hercules," and comedian George Burns performed the role of God in three movies, always "without makeup," as he bragged. Your assignment is to choose the person you'd like to portray God or goddess in the movie of your life. It's a favorable time to humanize the supreme deity; to imagine the divine intelligence not so much in the Judeo-Christian tradition — as the remote, aloof CEO of heaven — but rather as imagined by the mystic poet Rumi: the tender friend who is always as close as your own breath.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In the comic strip "Baby Blues," the toddler Zoë tells her mother, "My favorite childhood memory is the time you gave me a pony, and I spent the summer galloping through meadows of wildflowers." The mom pauses a moment, then reminds Zoë, "We didn't give you a pony, and you haven't ever galloped through wildflowers in your life." The wise child replies, "Well, it's never too late to make memories happen." It's a perfect astrological moment to make up for lost time and atone for your unlived life. So fabricate memories of events that would have been really fun and interesting. Then actually go and experience them.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): What's your relationship with immortality? You won't die for many years, but this is prime time to think about whether there is any sense in which you might live forever. Let's start by taking an inventory. If you're a typical Westerner, reincarnation is a hopeful but cartoony theory that you can't really have faith in. You're more likely to imagine that your unique individuality will survive through your children or a noteworthy personal accomplishment. But now I'm going to ask you to set aside all your beliefs and approach the subject with what the Zen Buddhists call "beginner's mind." More next week.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): One rainy night last January I went to bed at 8 p.m. My house was messy, I was coming down with a cold, and three credit card bills from holiday shopping sprees had arrived earlier that day. For a while I slept soundly. When I awoke from a bad dream, it was pitch black. The power had gone out and the dial of my bedside clock was dark. The storm's drizzle had grown to a downpour. Strong winds slammed tree branches against the house. Then, amazingly, a bird began singing a cheerful tune. Unfazed by the pummeling gale and deluge, it took its time as it calmly unleashed a sinuous, buoyant stream of riffs. This week you will experience an equivalent miracle.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Some years ago, urban shaman Donna Henes conjured up a three-week ceremony called "Dressing Our Wounds in Warm Clothes." Equal parts performance art and healing ritual, it was staged at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Ward's Island, a scrap of land that also hosts a sewage disposal plant. In its ambition, the event rivaled Mother Teresa's well-publicized toilet cleaning at a leper colony. You’d be smart to be inspired by Henes' noble act of creativity. It's a perfect time to salve your worst booboos with artful ingenuity.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): One of the most poignant heroes of children's literature is the Hungry Tiger from Oz. In a sequel to the famous Wizard of Oz, the beast explains his dilemma to Dorothy. On the one hand, he is always longing to devour little creatures. On the other hand, he has made a moral decision not to. Alas, there is never a time when he finally quashes the urge. Whenever he comes upon a plump chicken or baby, he must steel his will to act in accordance with his conscience. Though he gets plenty of other food — potatoes and ice cream are his favorites — he eternally feels deprived. This is a perfect description of what many of you have been experiencing. Now here's the good news: An extra-delicious feast of potatoes and ice cream is on the way.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I work hard at my job. A single oracle can require hours of research and meditation. I also take my responsibility to you very seriously. Having been misled by fortunetellers myself, I'm scrupulous about nurturing, not undermining, your free will and imagination. It's amazing, then, when I get mail like the following from James: "I really believe you lie awake at night full of too much coffee, thinking up meandering, Neanderthal musings while in a state of abstract brain burps." Luckily, I'm not hurt by such comments, which offer no constructive criticism. I may not be perfectly wise, but I know how much heart and soul I consistently offer. Please cultivate a similar attitude. People may not fully appreciate you in the coming days, and your faith in your own integrity may have to sustain you.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In Asian myth, snakes and birds are often portrayed as adversaries. My dictionary of symbolism says their eternal war represents humanity's difficulty in coordinating the concerns of heaven and earth. Morality is often at odds with desire; good intentions in opposition to unconscious motivations; bright rationality set against dark poetry. What are we to think, then, Pisces, about the dreams and visions you'll be having in the coming weeks: wherein snakes and birds enjoy great adventures together, cooperating harmoniously? I'd say you're on schedule for some sweet unifications. If you ruled the world, what three decrees would you issue immediately to begin the mass healing? Write:

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