Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In his book, The Degradation of Language and Music and Why We Should, Like, Care, John McWhorter says he prefers the energetic rants of poetry slams to the "doggedly flat rainy day poems" of more academic writers. On the other hand, the spoken word stuff rarely ventures beyond "alienation and scolding," which limits its beauty and power. "The vast weight of human artistic achievement was not created in indignation," he notes. Your anger will be good and strong in 2004. It will help you tap into constructive creativity. But resist the temptation to let it influence everything you do.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "When you're following your energy and doing what you want all the time," says Shakti Gawain, "the distinction between work and play dissolves." I think you can go a long way toward blending work and play without having to reach Gawain's impossibly high standard of all the time, It would be revolutionary to "follow your energy and do what you want" just 20 percent more than your current levels. And you can easily exceed that. Shoot for 30 percent.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You'll be coming home in 2004. Maybe you'll finally locate the power spot where you feel pure and real and true. Maybe you'll create the community you've always dreamed of or else join a network that connects you to resources that have always been off-limits. Perhaps you'll explore the land where your ancestors lived and died for many generations, or maybe you'll make a pilgrimage to a storied place that holds the key to a mystery you desperately need to clarify. And maybe you'll do all of the above.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): "The great lesson from the true mystics is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard." So said psychologist Abraham Maslow. Of course that's always true, but in 2004 it will be far more true for you than ever before. You won't have to travel to exotic paradises to drum up life-changing epiphanies. You won't have to hunt for miracles in all-night revels at the edge of reality. All the amazement you'll need will glide right up to you while you're washing dishes or taking a walk.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Using FBI crime data, a research company determined that Amherst, N.Y., is the safest city in America, followed by Brick Township, N.J., and Mission Viejo, Calif. In 2004, your sign will be safest in all the zodiac. You're least likely to be a victim of crime, abusive relationships, health problems, and bad ideas. Take maximum advantage of this coming grace period. What adventures would you set out on if you knew you had little to fear? What brave decisions would you risk? What "forbidden" pleasures would you sample?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Some of the finest minds I've ever known have belonged to Virgos. I've benefited greatly from your tribe's analytical power. Though my gig as an astrology columnist may suggest I favor magical thinking over the logical kind, I am in fact a great admirer of the scientific method and objective reasoning. Having said all that, I can in good conscience tell you to trust your passion way more than usual in 2004. Carry this Ray Bradbury quote in your wallet: "If we listened only to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair or friendship. We'd never go into business. Well, that's nonsense. Sometimes you've got to jump off cliffs and grow your wings on the way down."

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): has begun to do with books what Napster did to music: give them away free online. Along with 120,000 other books, you can now read the entire text of my memoir, The Televisionary Oracle, without buying it. My first reaction to this was a clenched "Aarrgghh! My beloved creation, which I slaved over for years, will no longer generate any income!" Soon I moved to a new attitude, Buddhist-style nonattachment: "Everything in this world is transitory. Why worry about what I can't control?" Later my view evolved still further, spurred by reports that Amazon expects this innovation to actually boost book sales. "Maybe this is a good thing," I decided. The process I went through, Libra, will be similar to your own in 2004. I predict that an apparent loss will lead to an unexpected gain.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In last week's horoscope, I predicted that in 2004 you will have many exuberant exploits that spread joy and laughter throughout the land. Now it's time to reveal your other key assignment for the coming months: to seek out experiences that rouse reverence and awe. Do you have any heroes? Do you know anyone whose noble grace or healing genius takes your breath away? Are there any gorgeous works of art or natural wonders that inspire you to fall to your knees and shout "Glory in the highest!"? You need to put yourself regularly in the presence of marvels like that. For extra credit, create adventures in which you feel both worshipful adoration and rowdy pleasure.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You'll have some heroic assignments in 2004. They will challenge you to be both ingeniously creative and rigorously disciplined. Can you think way outside the box without alienating those who prefer to live inside the box? Are you open-minded enough to get fired up about experimental innovations, but authoritative enough to hammer out pragmatic compromises? Do you have the flexibility to be both a maverick and a leader?

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Mountaintop perspectives will be your specialty in the coming months. You will be invited again and again to gaze at the big picture. To make sure you keep going with the cosmic flow, keep asking yourself the question, "What would the far-seeing, adventure-loving part of me do right now?" Your weekly schedule should always be spiced with tasks that serve your master plan. Now here's your thought for the week, which can also serve as your thought for the year: "When we stop learning and merely act from the knowledge we have accumulated, disorder comes." — J. Krishnamurti.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): 2004 will be the Year of Games for you. Here are helpful guidelines, courtesy of programmer Garry Hamilton ( 1) If the game is rigged so you can't win, find another game or invent your own. 2) If you're not winning because you don't know the rules, learn the rules. 3) If you know the rules but aren't willing to follow them, there's either something wrong with the game or you need to change something in yourself. 4) Don't play the game in a half-baked way. Either get all the way in or all the way out. 5) It shouldn't be necessary for others to lose in order for you to win. If others have to lose, re-evaluate the game's goals.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): I'm hopeful that 2004 will be the year you renounce your habit of taking on the roles of scapegoat and martyr. In fact, let's launch a campaign to do just that right now. The best way to begin might be to engage in one last self-mocking wallow. Tape a "Kick Me" or "Use Me" sign on your back. Attach a chain to a doormat and wear it around your neck like a big necklace. Invite friends to blame you for everything that's wrong in their lives. Take the whole shtick to the limit, in other words, feel how ridiculous it is. Encourage it to burn itself out in a blaze of absurd glory. And then walk away from it forever. What's the one feeling you want to feel more than any other in 2004? Write:

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