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Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Snow rarely falls where I live, north of San Francisco Bay, but on winter nights the temperatures often gets down to freezing. Yet that doesn't stop renegade roses from popping out in January and February. Today, a single, huge, yellow goddess-yoni of a blossom is exploding from a high stem in my backyard. It's the only vibrant color in sight. Every other flowering plant is dormant. The scene reminds me of you, my dear — blooming, as you are, in the midst of an environment that outwardly seems inhospitable.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Be more like a wild horse and less like a golden retriever; more like a mysterious game with no time limit and less like a puzzle with several pieces missing; more like a song by P.J. Harvey and less like a movie by Ron Howard. Can you handle all of that, Taurus? For extra credit, try these tricks: Be more like a secret garden and less like a six-lane highway. Trust more in provocative information you don’t fully understand, and speak less about the obvious facts you know all too well. Become more of the person your parents didn't want you to become and less of the person you fear you'll become.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): One of the perks you enjoy from communing with this column is that I provide inside information about the moods of the gods. This week, for instance, I’ve discovered that Saturn (aka Father Time) is inclined to grant you quite a few extra hours of free time, but only on the condition that you don’t waste it on trivial diversions. So be diligent about feeding your soul’s need for fascinating freedom, Gemini. I'll bet that if you show Saturn how wisely you use his boon, he'll offer more of these dispensations in the future. Would you be willing to schedule your leisure time activities with the same discipline you do your work hours?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): In January 1978, I produced my first horoscope article for the Good Times, a newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. In the ensuing 23 years, I've created 1,196 consecutive weekly columns, never once missing a deadline. How have I managed to be so tenacious? I mean besides that I was born under the sign of Cancer, which is renowned for its perseverance? I think it's because I've been passionate about continually reinventing my approach to both astrology and writing. I've always vowed that I'll do whatever it takes to make sure the work is fun and interesting. As you consider committing yourself to a certain long-term involvement in the coming weeks, my fellow Crab, think about borrowing my approach.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Hundreds of images were considered for use as metaphors in your horoscope this week. Finalists included refugees crossing a border as they return home, two hands at first wrestling but then joining in a handshake, Britney Spears slow-dancing with Eminem on the deck of an aircraft carrier as hundreds of doves fly overhead, a teenage Palestinian boy and teenage Israeli girl making out in the back of a BMW with a bumper sticker that reads "Visualize Whirled Peas." In the end, only one image was absolutely perfect for you, Leo — a plastic jar of white glue at the center of a flower-bedecked shrine in the wilderness.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): If you had been alive 500 years ago, you probably would not have even known of the existence of coffee or petroleum. Today, of course, they're among the most precious fuels animating the lives of almost everyone you know. I predict that you will soon experience an analogous transformation telescoped into a few short months. A source you've been barely aware of until now will become like coffee and petroleum for you by next September. You'll hardly be able to believe you were able to live without it all this time.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Dear God, I pray that You will bring Librans gold satin bras or red leather jockstraps so that they might be moved to express a more riotous side of their natures. And, sweet Lord, I pray that in order to stimulate a healthy creative frenzy in those born under the sign of the Scales that you will conspire to put into their possession a self-help book that revs up the wilder parts of the mind, such as Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Finally, dear Almighty Wow, I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd influence Libras to work harder at becoming happy. Maybe you could get them to read the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness or David Meyers' and Ed Dieners' book, The Science of Happiness. Amen and a-women.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I've just returned from my diplomatic mission to the disputed territory where your nightmares are holed up. I think I've talked them into laying down their weapons and freeing their hostages. All you have to do in return is listen to them rant for a while and maybe give them a little kiss and hug. Drawing from my vast experience as a tamer of demons, I'd say that they've resorted to extreme measures only because they're desperate for your attention.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Warning! Danger! Beware! On Feb. 3, Mercury goes retrograde! The preceding was a public service announcement that I will now proceed to ridicule. I'm sick and tired of the Chicken Little School of Astrology. I'm terribly bored by the superstitious folks who expect crossed signals and communication snafus whenever Mercury appears to move contrary to its usual direction. Listen up, people! This happens three times every year in a perfectly routine manner. Let's save our belief in evil omens for events that are unpredictable, such as supernovas and weird comets. There is nothing inherently crippling about Mercury retrograde — unless you devoutly fear there is, in which case your check will be lost in the mail and you will suffer a misunderstanding with a friend. But if you'd prefer to base your actions on a more accurate assessment, please act as if it's an excellent time to work on becoming a better communicator.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Here's a new word I came across in "Harper's" magazine: "taurocoprology." It means the study of bullshit — how to use it creatively, how to recognize when it's being used and how to make it work for you instead of against you. If I'm reading the astrological omens correctly, Capricorn, it will be of vital importance for you to deepen your mastery of taurocoprology in the coming weeks. Hype, white lies and excessively creative storytelling will flourish unless you intervene.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "Dear Dr. Brezsny: Why are we always told by all the 'experts' that we have to begin at the beginning? Think of how much time and trouble we could save if we could begin at the end, or at least in the middle. Right now, for instance, I would love to skip all the boring baby steps I'm being forced to take. Can't you rig the astrological factors to make it possible for me to zip right to the giant steps? —Big-Thinking Aquarius." Dear Big Thinker: Funny you should bring this up. Are you psychic? It just so happens that the planetary omens strongly suggest you'll soon have a good excuse to leap free of the tortuous preliminaries and head straight for the meat of the matter.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): If you're like me, you cringe as you survey the lazy decisions and passive behaviors that checker your personal history. You wonder what you could have possibly been thinking when you treated yourself carelessly or alienated a reliable ally or failed to act on a breathtaking invitation. I don't know about you, but I sometimes have to fight off the belief that the wrong turns in my life weigh more on the scales of destiny than the moments of grace. Luckily for you, though, Pisces, February is Amnesty Month for all Fishes who are willing to admit the error of their ways. To the degree that you work to correct the bad habits that have led you astray, the cosmos will liberate you from the lingering inertia caused by your old failures. What kind of teacher do you need the most right now? What is the ignorance that’s causing you to suffer? Write:

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