Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The guy in front of me in the grocery store checkout line today was wearing a T-shirt that said, "Sublimely tacky, yet refreshingly unrefined." That’s a perfect lead-in to the astrological advice I’d like to convey to you this week, which is: You’re most likely to be happy and successful if you stop trying to deny the fact that you’re a beautifully messy mass of contradictions. It’s high time for you to celebrate your inconsistencies and regard your mutability as a strength. I encourage you to invite all of your different sub-personalities to a big come-as-you-are party in your head.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Do you remember when you learned to read, back when you were 6 years old? One week the clumps of letters were indecipherable, and the next week you could actually make sense of them. I propose to you, Taurus, that you are now at a comparable threshold in the evolution of your emotional life. Feelings that have previously been obscure or puzzling will soon come into focus. You’ll be blessed with an upgrade in your intuition about your friends’ and loved ones’ moods. Your power to enjoy intimacy will dramatically ripen.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Speaking to an audience at Harvard University, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made the observation that "sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged." While I do approve of you spending the next week exploring the frontiers of sensual pleasure, I’m not sure you should go as far as Scalia suggests. Or if you do, make sure you really like and respect your fellow orgiasts. Your erotic adventures should never erode but should always support your spiritual values.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): A million jobs have been lost since our fellow Cancerian, George W. Bush, became U.S. president. The nation’s dangerously high budget deficit, now at record levels, is due to his spending hikes and tax cuts for the wealthy. He instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to go ahead and approve new pesticides without bothering to find out if they’d threaten endangered species. He ignored 49 retired generals and admirals when they asked him to take billions of dollars earmarked for his quixotic missile defense shield and instead use the funds to protect potential terrorist targets like ports and nuclear facilities. Despite these and many other extremist actions, millions of Americans still plan to vote for him on Nov. 2. While other Crabs like you and I won’t have THAT much slack in coming weeks, we will get quite a lot. It may be time for us to try getting away with bold moves we haven’t dared before.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In the film, *Angels in America*, the character named Belize describes his vision of heaven. It’s not a spotlessly clean gated community where everyone wears white gowns and nothing ever changes. Rather, it’s a "big city, overgrown with weeds, but flowering weeds. On every corner a wrecking crew, and something new and crooked going up catty-cornered to that. Gusts of gritty wind, and a gray, high sky alive with ravens. Piles of trash, but lapidary like rubies and obsidian. Diamond-colored streamers. Voting booths. Dance palaces full of music and lights and racial impurity and gender confusion. All the deities are creole, mulatto, brown as the mouths of rivers." While that’s not necessarily how I envision my ideal home, I love its implication that we should imagine paradise to be mysterious, intriguing and in flux. Let Belize inspire you to be soulful and poetic, Leo, as you update your own vision of perfection — your conception of the good life.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The astrological omens are pretty odd right now. They seem to be suggesting that your luck will be good and you’ll be in maximum alignment with the cosmic rhythms if you watch a lot of daytime television, eat heaps of junk food, get no more than four hours of sleep a night and argue with yourself loudly in public. *Just kidding, Virgo.* I was merely testing to see whether you’ve become overly gullible towards so-called authorities like me. The truth is that you should free yourself from influences that presume to tell you what to do. Get their voices completely out of your head so you can clearly hear the still, small voice of your fiercely tender intuition.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "Each of us has a name given by God and given by our parents," writes the Israeli poet Zelda Mishkovsky. "Each of us has a name given by our sins and by our longing. Each of us has a name given by our enemies and by our love. Each of us has a name given by our celebrations and by our work. Each of us has a name given by the sea and by the stars." Your homework for the coming week, Libra, is to figure out all ten names that Mishkovsky says you have. Your identity is ripe for expansion; your sense of self is ready to bloom.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Your recent "experiment" reminds me of the Malaysian performance artist who locked herself in a glass box with 2,700 scorpions, hoping to remain there for 30 days. After being stung by the poisonous arachnids seven times, she almost left early. Ultimately, though, she toughed it out. I figure you are at a point in your own adventure where you’ve managed to survive the equivalent of five stings, Scorpio. But in my opinion you’ve already proved your point. I suggest you finish the "experiment" immediately.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Events in the coming week will bring the beginning of the end of an influence you love to hate. They will also usher in a turning point for your relationship with a person you should treat better than you do. And that’s just a fraction of the many adventures headed your way, Sagittarius. Finales and climaxes will be in the works everywhere you turn, and you will get one last chance to fix a long-standing mess before it explodes. Is that dramatic enough for you? No? You want even more? OK, then, how’s this: You may finally realize what you want to be when you grow up.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I myself was born under the astrological sign of Cancer the Crab, but I’ve worked long and hard to make sure I love all the other signs equally. Similarly, I don’t belong to any political party, but I treat Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Greens with respect. And though I’ll be voting for John Kerry in the presidential election, that doesn’t mean I despise those who support George W. Bush. Your assignment this week, Capricorn, is to follow my example as you deal with the hot-button issues of your personal life. Be true to your ideals, but keep your heart and mind open to those who don’t share your fervent passions.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): To begin the 19th season of her television talk show, Oprah Winfrey gave away a brand-new $28,000 car to everyone in her studio audience. Inspired by her example, I’ve decided to bestow an incredibly valuable boon on you: three love spells. The first will banish any resentments or hatreds that you harbor against old lovers. The second will boost your skill at seeing others for who they really are. And my third love spell will help you concentrate as much on giving love as on getting it.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Cosmic omens can be interpreted on many levels. This week, for instance, some astrologers might credibly suggest that you Pisceans should work behind the scenes to gently coax people into serving your secret agendas. Other astrologers might urge you to go undercover to gather hard-to-access information that will help you build up your power. Yet other stargazers might predict you’re in line for some consciousness-altering adventures, and encourage you to seek out their most positive expression. I go along with all of those possibilities, but add my own spin: It’s a perfect time for you to carry out a riveting rite of passage for yourself, complete with awe-inspiring ceremonies and reverent communion with divine allies. Here’s this week’s homework: Confess, brag and expostulate about what inspires you to love. Write

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