Free Will Astrology

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): When I was a kid, I read Highlights magazine. My favorite feature was the section that asked Zen-like questions like "Can you laugh and cry at the same time?" or "If you were a talking parrot, what words would you want to learn?" For this week’s horoscope, I’ve borrowed the spirit of that old source of inspiration. "What’s more beautiful, the smell of an orange or the sight of a green hill in spring? Is it possible to fall up instead of down? Describe how you’d catch a dragonfly without hurting it. Tell a story that’s half-true and half-lies. Can you grow brain cells just by thinking you want to?"

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Lately I have this recurring vision of you crawling up out of a deep hole. I’ve even had two dreams with that theme. Each time, you seem to defy gravity as you climb by clawing at the sides of the hole and pulling yourself higher and higher until you finally emerge into daylight. Why am I having these fantasies? Are they a metaphor for your life right now? I shudder to think that you’ve been in an abyss as profound as the one I’ve been seeing, though I’m ecstatic about the prospect that you’re about to escape.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The Chinese poet Yuan Mei (1716-1798) was heavily influenced by Buddhism but was also skeptical toward it. He was eager to learn from the very tradition he criticized. The book of his selected poems is entitled I Don’t Bow to Buddhas. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, this is an excellent time for you to follow Yuan Mei’s lead. Are you smart and subtle enough to practice his split-minded approach? I think you are. Try this: Intensify your love and respect for the ideas you’re inspired by, even as you explore your doubts about them and subject them to rigorous testing.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): "What astrological transit did Galileo have when he first turned a telescope toward the heavens?" asks Richard Tarnas, author of Cosmos and Psyche. "What transit was Sigmund Freud experiencing when he had the breakdown-cum-breakthrough that propelled him into his life’s work?" he adds. There’s not enough space to answer those questions here, Cancerian. I invoke them because I want to suggest that you’re currently basking in cosmic influences that could hatch a quantum leap with resemblances to those of Galileo and Freud.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): "Dear Rob: I have to say that you unfailingly tune in to my manic and riotous subconscious screams every single week and help me transform them into something beautiful, fresh, and worthy of serious amusement. How do you do it? Can you teach me how to perform the same service for myself? —Leo Longing for Self-Mastery." Dear Future Self-Master: You may not realize it yet, but in the past few weeks you Leos have acquired scads of data that could provide excellent fodder in your quest for self-mastery. I suggest that you pore over your recent past and gather up the rich clues.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): On the third anniversary of America’s invasion of Iraq, many protests took place. But they were mild, not wild — more like Sunday picnics than the fierce mass demonstrations that raged in 2003. New York’s rally drew a mere 1,000, Washington’s 300. The march near where I live was a small affair led by two octogenarian women riding cream-colored scooters. They snacked on cookies and sang "This Little Light of Mine." I was shocked and awed by the lack of passion. Don’t you dare allow a similar apathy to creep in to your own fight for justice, Virgo. For the sake of your future, you’ve got to redouble your righteous, ingenious anger.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): The coming week should include a lot of back and forth, give and take, and to and fro. It will be a favorable time to jump into spirited debates and seek clarification through good-natured arguing. Dynamics that might feel uncomfortably adversarial at any other time could be invigorating now. In fact, I encourage you to bring up touchy subjects that everyone has been avoiding, because it’s likely you’ll finally be able to deal with them in candid and constructive ways. Your power symbol for the week is a child’s seesaw.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "Dear Dr. Brezsny: Usually I gobble up your words. They’re soul food that nourishes me for days. But last week’s ’scope gave me indigestion. Was there a hidden meaning? I promise I’ll give you the secret handshake and tell you the secret password. Help me out. —Scorpio Who Hates Secrets Unless I’m Keeping Them." Dear Scorpio: I think the problem is that you’ve been keeping so many secrets for so long that you’ve come to assume that every situation is crammed with secrets. The truth is, this is a highly unsecretive time for you. You should proceed as if there’s no good reason to hide anything and as if everyone is willing to reveal themselves freely.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): "The wisdom of this year is the folly of the next." So said the fortune cookie message I got last night when I was having dinner at a Chinese restaurant with two Sagittarian friends. As I read my oracle aloud, one of my companions said, "Ain’t that the truth!" and the other barked, "You got that right!" I take this to mean that it’s my duty to share my fortune cookie oracle with you. What wisdom from last year is now being revealed as folly? And what are you going to do about it?

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In the Bible’s Book of Exodus 34:14, God says His name is "Jealous." Literally. Why isn’t this fact more widely discussed by people who care about religion? In his book 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, Russ Kick says it’s because America’s Pledge of Allegiance would have to be altered to say, "one nation, under Jealous," and would lead to a redesign of U.S. currency, in which the motto "In God we Trust" became "In Jealous we trust." Your assignment, Capricorn, is to withdraw your support for any deity that calls himself or herself "Jealous" — even as you also renounce any impulse in you that indulges in jealousy.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Years ago I had a girlfriend who was a performance artist. At Easter time every year, she did a show in which she walked barefoot on top of a spiral row of 22 colored, uncooked eggs without breaking more than a couple of them. Being 5-feet 3-inches tall and 102 pounds helped her accomplish this semi-miraculous feat, but it still required great skill and concentration. I believe you have a comparable task ahead of you, Aquarius. Better start practicing.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Here are your words of power for the coming week, Pisces: "finagle, serendipitous, tinker, revise, crafty, balance, rectify." I urge you to carry out actions that embody the spirit of all those terms. Once you do, I believe you’ll be in perfect alignment with the cosmic forces coming to bear on you, and will therefore have prevailed upon those cosmic forces to provide you with the metaphorical equivalent of a skeleton key, universal password, or Swiss army knife. Here’s this week’s homework: Compare the person you are now with the person you were two years ago. Make a list of the three most important differences. Testify at

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