Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Sometimes it’s just not worth trying to gnaw through the leather straps; you’re better off accepting your bondage, saving your energy, and escaping into daydreams. But in the coming weeks, Aries, you should definitely strive to chomp through the leather straps. In fact, you’re likely to have excellent results whenever you do anything to slip away from your volunteer slavery or break free from your self-imposed incarceration. When you look back on your life from the perspective of next year, you will probably call December your month of liberation.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "The basic difference between an ordinary person and a warrior," wrote Carlos Castaneda, "is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary person takes everything either as a blessing or a curse." Maybe you consider yourself an ordinary person, Taurus, and therefore think Castaneda’s definition of a warrior has no meaning for you. But I’m here to tell you that the astrological omens say you will have to be a warrior in the coming weeks, even if you’re usually not. So please act as if every experience will have the potential to be an interesting, invigorating challenge.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle described the movie Van Helsing as "what a chimpanzee might do with an Etch A Sketch." I suspect that someone in your sphere has recently produced something similar — perhaps a bad work of art, a botched business deal or an awkward relationship. It’s not necessarily your sacred duty to try to make this mess more beautiful, and you certainly shouldn’t try to prop it up or pretend it’s well done. But I do believe you should create something better to compensate for it — much better. Though almost anything you come up with will look good in comparison.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Psychologist James Hillman says that taking action to correct social and economic injustice in the world can serve as powerful psychotherapy. In some cases, it may even be a more effective way to transmute one’s personal pain than talking endlessly about the pain with a therapist. That thought is the seed of my advice for you, Cancerian. In the coming weeks, the sure cure for your problems — even your most uncomfortable enigma — is to take your mind off yourself and summon all your emotionally rich ingenuity to help others.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In honor of your entrance into the Season of Romance, I’ve written you a love poem. Here it is. "Be my slow-motion dance. Be my birthday earthquake. Be my ripe pomegranate floating in a blue plastic swimming pool on the first day of winter. Be my handstand on a barstool, my whirlwind week in clown school, my joke shared with a Siberian shaman while shopping for socks at Wal-Mart. Be my puzzle with one piece missing. Be the waves crashing on a beach in the south of France in the 22nd century. Be my golden hammer resting on the moss of a 10-million-year-old rock."

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In the film Catch Me If You Can, a character played by Christopher Walken tells a story that illustrates persistence under duress. "Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream," he begins. "The first mouse gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out." I urge you to make that second mouse your role model in the coming days, Virgo. Can you summon that much courage, stamina, and strength of will? The astrological omens say you can.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I suggest that you refer to yourself as "we" rather than "I" for the next couple of weeks. There is a power struggle going on among your various sub-personalities, and the best way to keep some of them from going berserk and doing something irrational is to treat them all equally. In fact, I suggest that you give each of them a name. Make each of them feel special. Then sit down with them in a big summit conference. Clear the air. Create an environment that fosters freedom of expression. Listen attentively as each of your many selves describes his or her needs, and try to come up with a plan that satisfies everyone.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): This is one of those odd turning points when you have a license to be a cute brat in charge of mischievous healing. I dare you to stir up the exact kind of trouble that will make everyone feel better. It’s also a good time to start benevolent rumors, break out in song during committee meetings, and push your own buttons before anyone else can push them. Please try to be one step ahead of you at all times, Scorpio. And if you can’t seem to resist your craving for the metaphorical equivalent of pickles and ice cream, be sure you balance it by cultivating a desire for ketchup and banana sandwiches.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You can’t get what you want until you ask for what you want. That’s always true, of course. But in the coming days, Sagittarius, it will be even more true than usual. Your life will be a desolate wasteland of frustration if you expect everyone to telepathically guess what you’re fantasizing about. But your life will be an overflowing cornucopia of delights if you state concisely, without any whining and without any attitude, precisely what it is you desire.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): With the help of a dead man, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling achieved success. Shortly before his team’s biggest games, Schilling suffered a serious ankle injury. His doctors dreamed up an experimental procedure that involved sewing his skin to the tissue beneath it, thereby creating a temporary barrier to prevent his weakened tendon from slipping. Since they’d never actually done it, they tried it out first on a cadaver. It worked, and they applied what they’d learned to help Schilling. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, Capricorn, you, too, will be blessed and aided by the dead in the coming weeks. It may not be as literal as in Schilling’s case, but it could be equally dramatic.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): There will be times in 2005 when I will ask you to spend quality time wrestling with people who disagree with you; I’ll suggest that you expose yourself eagerly to influences that are unfamiliar and even alien. But don’t do any of that in the coming weeks, Aquarius. Right now your assignments are to hang around like-minded people, to talk shop with cohorts who share your biases, and to build your community through fun and games. You need to feel you’re part of a thriving web that supports you in your drive to live out your dreams--and you need to feel a lot of joy as you do it.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "If you want to build a ship," counseled author Antoine de Saint Exupéry, "don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." That’s not only smart advice for a leader who wants to inspire the best in her team, but also for anyone interested in motivating herself to risk great solo adventures. In fact, that’s exactly what you should do in the coming weeks. Whisper with wild abandon to your inner child, your inner explorer, your inner magician, and your inner monarch. Fill them with the desire to go in search of captivating mysteries.

Here’s this week’s homework: Take a trip in your imagination to the future, where you will visit the person you’ll be four years from today. What is the most important message you have to convey to him or her? Write

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