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Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): "Life, with all its evenings/religiously returns each morning like/a mountain opening up within the heart." So writes poet Frank Lima. I'm pleased to offer you this image as your birthday present. It captures a sense of the wild immensity that's just beginning to grow in you. Refrain from subjecting it to logical analysis for now; don't frame it in an abstract idea that reduces the gorgeous mystery to dry psychobabble. Simply honor the mountain opening up within your heart.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): There is no other devil besides the devil within each of us. This "devil" is the part of our psyches that habitually churns out negative thoughts. It's the ignorant shadow, the enemy within, the unconscious repository of all our worst programming. Each year during the month before our birthdays, this automaton tends to rise up and try to sabotage our success. In 2002, it'll be sticking to its customary routine: no better and no worse than usual. What should you do? Alternate between fighting it and tickling it, between using all your ingenious power to crush it and using all your wisdom to laugh it into oblivion.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Many people fantasize that their presence at a sports event influences the game's outcome. This is a throwback to the magical thinking practiced by supposedly more primitive humans, documented in Sir James Frazier's monumental work, The Golden Bough. Just as in earlier ages men and women made love ritually in the freshly seeded spring fields to propitiate the growth of the crops, so do rabid fans of the Green Bay Packers wear giant Styrofoam hats resembling cheese in order to amplify their football team's luck. This is usually superstitious hooey. For the next three weeks, however, you will be a rare exception. You will actually be able to affect large-scale events with your idiosyncratic mojo.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Some years back my astrology column appeared for a while in a weekly paper for senior citizens in Salem, Mass. It shared a page with the "Shoe Corner" feature, which offered older folks tips about footwear. Though the size of my readership has grown since those days, my demographic niche seems to have shrunk a bit. I rarely get fan mail or marriage proposals from anyone over 60. That's the bad news. The good news is that we Crabs are entering an astrological phase when we will have a sixth sense about how to expand our appeal. We will just naturally be able to excite the attention of people who've previously been blind to our charms. Do I sense a ripe opportunity for a marketing crusade?

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): I think you should be removed from civilized society for a while. You've gotten too tame; you've been hypnotized by the conventional wisdom. If I had my way, you'd be temporarily relocated to your very own wild kingdom. Picture 1,000 acres of natural beauty where you'd be excused from all the artificial rhythms and soul-sucking customs you have become far too accustomed to. Imagine what it might be like to let the animal within you run around and play. I'm reminded of a phrase by Jungian storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes: "homesick for wild knowing." That's what you are.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Neurologist Alan Hirsch has done research into what odors turn people on. Men are most likely to be aroused by the smells of cinnamon buns and doughnuts, while women go wild for Good & Plenty candy and cucumbers. Both genders seem to get worked up in the presence of the fragrances that waft from pumpkin pie and lavender. During your own personal mating season, which you're currently in the midst of, you probably don't need any extra stimuli to seduce the partner of your choice. But are you really worried about captivating too much of his or her attention? I doubt it. Why not carry one or more of these aphrodisiacs with you at all times?

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): During the last few weeks, your words of power have been terms most people associate with difficulty: resistance, uphill, workaround, jury-rigged, compromise. Amazingly, you have managed to make all of these themes serve your ultimate goals. Congratulations on being so robustly perverse. Beginning any minute now, you will officially move into a far smoother phase of your cycle. Your words of power will be what marketing experts have identified as the most persuasive terms in the English language: discover, easy, guarantee, health, results.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I found a prayer that should be particularly helpful for you in the coming days. It has been slightly altered from its original version as a 12-step affirmation. Here goes. "O God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept and the wisdom to pull off hilarious pranks on everyone who pisses me off. Help me to be careful of the toes I step on today, as they may be connected to an ass that I have to kiss tomorrow."

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): The Guinness Book of World Records honors Englishman John McPherson as the most prolific kisser of all time. In 1985, he smooched 4,444 women in eight hours. I believe that a lover of the Sagittarian persuasion could very well shatter that record in the coming weeks. Your tribe is currently under the influence of an exceptionally sweet and playful erotic vibe. Even if you have no ambition to outstrip McPherson's indiscriminate output, I suggest you channel an equally concentrated burst of creative loving on a deserving partner.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was master of the ode, a lyric blessing that bestows praise and thanks. Some of the subjects that received Neruda's appreciation were grand: his "Ode to the Moon of the Sea," "Ode to the Birth of a Fawn," and "Ode to a Beautiful Nude." But the majority of his praise poems were directed at far more ordinary experiences: for example, his "Ode to a Bar of Soap," "Ode to a Pair of Socks," and "Ode to French Fries." You are now entering a phase when it will make most sense to draw inspiration from the latter rather than the former: Neruda's skill at recognizing the miracles latent in simple things. On behalf of the cosmic powers-that-be, I invite you to compose your own odes to the wonderful conveniences, friends, and pleasures that you sometimes take for granted.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Responding to a horoscope in which I made abundant use of the Socratic method, a reader wrote to complain. "Don't give me so many freaking choices," he whined only half-facetiously. "I want simple, no-nonsense answers!" It so happens that the current astrological omens allow me to give all Aquarians exactly what this certainty-seeker yearns for: no wiggle room. Here's your ambiguity-free directive: Phase out anything you feel lukewarm about. Embrace everything you agree with and believe in with all your heart.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You may not have the bucks to pay a therapist $90 a week, let alone hire a financial advisor. If so, that's a shame, since this is a ripe time to tinker with the neuroses that screw up your money karma. I'll do my best impersonation of a financially adept therapist. For your first assignment, make a list of the 10 most valuable qualities you offer the world. Second, describe in florid detail why the world needs these qualities and why, therefore, it should abundantly reward you for them. Third, practice feeling what it's like when your valuable qualities are seen and appreciated by others. Finally, repeat the following affirmation aloud 10 times daily for two weeks: "I am an amazing resource that many people want to enjoy." Unleash the smart animal within you that has been restricted because of the actions of the dumb animal in you at

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