Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): We have all been guilty of desiring people and things that turned out to be no good for us. Whenever I review the history of my own relationship with longing, I’m embarrassed about some of the dumb "pleasures" I once craved. I’ve also noticed, though, that sometimes the only cure for wanting ill-advised thrills is to actually get them. The suffering that ensues can be an excellent prod to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future. I bring this up, Aries, because it’ll be important for you to keep in mind during the next six weeks. You will have to be quite discriminating about your desires. If you’re careful, you can refrain from fulfilling the wrong ones.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In the French village of Lourdes is a spring whose waters are reputed to have miraculous powers of healing. For 150 years, sick and despondent pilgrims from all over the world have traveled there seeking relief. To get to the sacred sanctuary, ironically, seekers must make their way through streets filled with cheesy souvenir shops and tourist traps. And the restaurants in Lourdes are among the worst in all of France. This scenario may be a bit like your life in the coming days, Taurus. In your search for healing and purity, you’ll probably have to weave your way through a mini-wasteland.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): This is Walk Your Talk Week for you Geminis. More than any other time this year, you will have everything going for you when you concentrate on translating your highest ideals into practical actions. Live up to your hype, you beautiful dreamer. Fulfill your promises. Call on all your ingenuity to create effects that are in harmony with your intentions. You are now capable of being as free of hypocrisy as it’s possible for a human being to be.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): These days it’s rare to hear music that’s not channeled through machines. When is the last time you enjoyed beautiful singing unenhanced by a microphone or the technology of a recording studio? But I say unto you, my dear Cancerian, that it’s now crucial for you to listen to the naked human voice raised in song. Don’t stop there, either. Your soul craves all kinds of raw, unfiltered contact with the world—

firsthand information that hasn’t been translated or interpreted before it reaches you. So try divesting yourself of the opinions you’ve borrowed from "experts." Look for guidance from the experiences you actually have, not from stories, gossip, and news gleaned from secondhand sources. Make love with a real person, not with the fantasies implanted in your imagination by the entertainment industry.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): During the day, the sky is filled with as many stars as it is at night, but the sun so thoroughly monopolizes our attention that we can’t see them. I believe this is an apt metaphor for a certain situation in your personal life, Leo. Some dominant force keeps you from becoming aware of less spectacular but still important influences. Soon, though, that dominant force will go on sabbatical. You’ll be able to gaze upon sights that its presence normally obscures. Your understanding of the world will naturally change forever, and though that may be shocking at first, in the long run it will be invigorating.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): "In countries where large percentages of the population believe in hell, there seems to be less corruption and a higher standard of living," concluded a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. My translation: Many people are motivated to do the right thing out of primal dread. I bring this up, Virgo, because it is critical for you to wean yourself of any attraction you might have to letting fear serve as a central motivator. I’m happy to report that in the coming months, you will have an unprecedented opportunity to retrain yourself to do just that. By September 2005, your quest for success and goodness could very well be inspired primarily by your love of life.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The cosmos is finally ready to discharge you from your heavy, dark assignments. Your main duty in the coming weeks is to seek relief and release in the most constructive ways possible. Celebrate, Libra, don’t thrash. Rejoice and look to the future, don’t thunder against the ordeal you’ve completed. I nominate the exuberant Libran poet Michael McClure to be your role model during this time. The poet Aaron Shurin has described McClure as a reveler who "puts the attitude in beatitude," and as an alchemist who’s "fluent in two languages, English and Beast." That’s exactly what you should be like as you lift your own spirits. Now please read aloud this paraphrase of a McClure poem: "GRAHHRR! RAHHR! RAHRIRAHHR! HRAHR! I’m not sugar, I’m love looking for sugar!"

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): What’s dying within you, Scorpio? Is it a passion that has expired? A dream that has gone to seed? A goal you neglected for so long that it can’t be resuscitated? If it’s time for that part of you to die, help it die. I mean create a ritual in which you formally complete your relationship with it, let go of it for good, and begin the grieving process. In honor of its passing, write a testimonial or draw a symbolic picture, then bury that remembrance in the earth near a tree you love. When you’re done with the funeral, eat the freshest, juiciest pear you can find.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): "If you plant a crocus bulb, it won’t grow into a grapevine," my teacher Ann Davies used to say. "You can’t learn to play the violin by practicing the piano." I hope you’ve had some version of this wisdom lighting up the back of your mind these past 11 months, Sagittarius. Soon you will harvest the fruits of the seeds you planted around your last birthday, and you will leap to a new level of mastery in whatever skill or trick or habit you’ve been faithfully plying for the past 11 months.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In portentous tones, as if exposing yet another sickening deterioration of our collective health, the Centers for Disease Control recently informed us that the average person is "sad, blue, or depressed" about three days a month. As I read various news articles reporting the results of the CDC’s survey, I looked in vain for even a glimmer of triumphant glee. After all, if we’re downhearted three days every month, it means we’re feeling pretty good the other 27 or 28 days. And that’s a glorious revelation that should, in my opinion, provoke dancing in the streets. But now I have even better news for you, Capricorn: According to my reading of the astrological omens, you will have, at the most, just one day of feeling sad, blue, or depressed this October.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Mystery writer Agatha Christie took issue with the old saw that says "necessity is the mother of invention." Just as often, she believed, the creation of new conveniences is prompted by the desire to save time and trouble. If necessity is the mother of invention, laziness is the father. I suggest you make that your motto in the coming week, Aquarius. Be on the lookout for innovations that will free up your time and imagination. Dream and scheme about how you can get more room in your schedule to do absolutely nothing but dream and scheme.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In the autumn, the sweet gum tree in my yard is a paradoxical sight. As its green leaves turn red and fall to the ground, it seems to be announcing that it’s slipping into a state of dormancy. At the same time, though, it sprouts hundreds of spiky, bright green balls full of seeds, as if to declare it’s bursting with irrepressible vitality. This phase of the sweet gum’s life is similar to where you are in your cycle right now, Pisces. Would you mind if I called you Sweet Gum? Here’s this week’s homework: If you had to choose one wild animal to follow, observe, and learn from for a month, which would it be? Testify at

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