Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The dictator of Turkmenistan, Saparmurad Niyazov, has had streets, farms, children, a brand of vodka, even oil pipelines named after him. Recently he decided to change the name of the year 2003 to that of his dead mother, Gurbansoltan, "to immortalize her sacred image and blessed memory." While I'm not in a position to argue about the farms and liquor, I disagree with his latest revision. I hereby move to rechristen the year Gurbansoltan/2003. Forevermore, let it be known as "Aries," to honor the sublime ripening your tribe's self-expressiveness has enjoyed these past months — and that will continue through August.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "The world is composed of rival gangs of hypnotists, each competing for your entranced attention." I found this scrawled on the wall of a public restroom. It's not literally true, but it might as well be. Every day you're besieged by advertisers, entertainers, politicians and news media that would love you to adopt their views. To resist their brainwashing, you have to exert heroic efforts to think for yourself. In the coming weeks, your vigilance must be even more rigorous than usual. Be the opposite of a know-it-all. Make curiosity and open-mindedness your highest values. Read and listen to people who don't believe what you do. Consider the possibility that your opinions may be wrong or incomplete.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The first thing they tell you when you enter law school is that there is no justice. Every legal process is tainted with favoritism and prejudice. In this realm where objectivity is supposedly the supreme value, subjectivity is rampant. The outcome of judicial decisions may hinge as much on human error and the unruly power of the imagination as on the naked facts. Once you accept all that as a given, then you will have the potential to become a potent force for fairness and impartiality. While you're probably not starting law school right now, similar principles will apply to the challenges you'll face in the coming weeks.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): "It is impossible for man to look straight at the present," noted media prophet Marshall McLuhan, "because he is too terrified by it. We stand on the stern of the ship looking at the wake and saying, 'We're in very troubled waters.'" I'm presenting you with McLuhan's theory because you are now poised to refute it. Lately you've been fixated on turmoil unleashed in the past; it's as if you've been peering out of a portal in a tiny room at the back of a fine yacht and moaning, "Everything feels cramped and I'm in troubled waters." But any minute now you will leave your cramped quarters, bound upstairs and stride to the front of the ship.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): A magnitude 6.7 earthquake rippled through the northwestern United States recently. No one felt it, though, because it happened in slow motion, unfolding gradually over two months. Are you ready for the metaphorical equivalent of this temblor? It will subliminally shake your foundations until your birthday. If you regard it with fear and resistance, it will amplify your existing level of stress. But if you vow to enjoy the ride, it will rock your world in the best possible way.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Music by Eminem can pump up a listener's audacity. Because its wicked beats and hysterically ferocious sentiments raise testosterone levels in both men and women, songs from his CD 8 Mile may also increase ambition, boost pride and encourage forceful self-expression. You would greatly benefit from this kind of arousal in the coming week. Your fervent assertiveness will be crucial to the well-being of both you and your cohorts. I suggest that you cue up 8 Mile, slip on the headphones, and crank up the volume. To accomplish the same result with the help of more elegant forms of masculine power, listen to the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. or read Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Love is more than a warm, tender feeling in your heart or loins. When done right, it's a revolutionary mode of perception that naturally moves you to rebel against everything you've been taught about how the world works. It's a radical act of magic that transforms all that it touches. You are always free to practice a tamer, safer version of love. But if you want to grow up to be a fascinating sex god or goddess, you should devote yourself to the more ultimate form. And the fates are conspiring to help you.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I'm at a loss to understand why Juneteenth isn't one of America's major holidays. Observed every June 19, it celebrates the emancipation of African-American slaves in the 1860s. Shouldn't it be a time of rejoicing for every race? When one group of people is held in bondage, the lives of all others are distorted. The same is true about the community of subpersonalities that resides within you. When one aspect of your multifaceted psyche is weak and oppressed, the rest suffer — even the supposedly healthy sides of you. Your own liberation day is nigh. It's time to free every part of you that is in chains.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): One of the most common obstructions to a healthy intimate relationship is what I call the delusion of clairvoyance. Like most of us, you've probably indulged in your share of it: You imagine, perhaps unconsciously, that your partner or friend is somehow magically psychic when it comes to you — so much so that he or she should unfailingly intuit exactly what you need, even if you don't ask for it. This fantasy may seem romantic, but it can single-handedly sink the most promising alliances. You must avoid feeding it even a little in the coming weeks. Your intimate life is overdue for a dose of tenderly frank communication.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): These days you remind me of the 65-year-old woman in India who gave birth to her first child; you're like my friend John, who never touched a musical instrument until he was 37 but made himself into a top-flight guitarist by the time he was 45. In other words, you're primed to risk learning a lesson you feared you were too old for. You're ready to set out toward an accomplishment you've thought was off-limits to you forever.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You will soon encounter a big, fat obstruction to your creativity. While that may be demoralizing at first, it's actually a good omen. It means that a previously hidden problem is revealing itself; that an inner saboteur is no longer working in secret. It means you'll finally get to a chance to fix an energy drain you didn't even know about. As a clue to help you in your noble struggle, I give you the words of novelist Joyce Carol Oates: "Writer's block is the temporary paralysis caused by the conviction, on an unconscious level, that what the writer is attempting is in some way fraudulent, or mistaken, or self-destructive."

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): The fictional young English wizard Harry Potter can communicate with snakes because he knows their language, Parseltongue. The real English magician John Dee (1527-1609), who served as astrological advisor to Queen Elizabeth, was able to converse with angels in their native language of Enochian. You are about to undergo a four-week intensive course in the language of love, which may include lessons in both Parseltongue and Enochian. By July 20, I expect you'll be close to fluent in several new romantic dialects and an exotic variety of pillow talk. It's my birthday this week. I'm gladly accepting gifts at or P.O. Box 150628, San Rafael, CA

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