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Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You remind me of an oak growing sideways out of a hill. You're healthy and strong, yet at odds with the more vertical route the other oaks are taking. I see nothing wrong with this, but I've made a career from going against the grain. If you want to continue evolving in your current direction, you should probably thicken your bark ... I mean, skin.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "Use your enemy's hand to catch a snake," advises a Persian proverb. Store that wisdom in the back of your mind. It may come in handy between now and the solstice, which should constitute one of the most interesting adversarial seasons in years. Here's more counsel to guide you: "Love your enemies. It'll drive them crazy." Perhaps the most useful epigram comes from Havelock Ellis: "Our friends may be the undoing of us; in the end it is our enemies who save us."

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Why it's always double great to be a Gemini, but especially now: 1) You get to enjoy both the odd pleasure of being your own evil twin and the difficult pleasure of forgiving your evil twin. 2) You're endowed with the ability to have two opinions at the same time, sometimes completely contradictory, thereby imitating God's expansive perspective. 3. You can put yourself into and out of everybody's shoes with such slippery ease that you not only never get bored with yourself, but also have a knack for avoiding other people's hells.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The Sun is cruising through your astrological House of the Blues, while Venus is slinking through your astrological House of Song. As a result, you have a knack for singing the blues with special poignancy. It's time to act as if the whole world was the shower stall where you do your most soulful wailing. You'll be amazed at how healing it is to swim to the bottom of every last feeling, all the while making beautiful groaning noises.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Unusual fantasies may soon tempt you, like riding in a 100-foot-long limousine with a king-size waterbed, or going to Bangkok and dancing on table tops in skimpy clothes. You may even imagine it would be fun to stick your head inside a lion's jaws while reciting poetry. While I approve of you feeding the adventurous, risk-taking spirit that's rising up in you, I'd prefer to see you express it more constructively. How about daring yourself to love wilder and wiser than you ever have before?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Tropical rain forests produce one-fifth of the earth's oxygen, contain half of all plant and animal species and provide ingredients for one-fourth of our pharmaceuticals. So what's behind the shortsighted destruction of this treasure? Here's one cause: Indigenous tribes often believe they can make a better living by chopping down the forests and using the land for farming. Why should they care about the global perspective, they argue, when they're struggling to survive? But recent evidence has emerged that proves the locals can actually make more money from wild-harvesting sustainable resources like medicinal plants, fruits, nuts and oils than they can from growing subsistence crops. Take this vignette and apply it as a metaphor to your current situation: By clinging to a source of meager value, you're depriving yourself (and the world) of a richer alternative.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Being good can become sterile if you're never good and rowdy. Acting relentlessly sincere can damage your credibility unless you indulge in playful unpredictability now and then. I'm not suggesting that you sneak hot sauce into your roommate's fruit juice or tack up a photocopy of your boss's butt on the bulletin board. Instead, casually tell a friend you dreamed about getting a sex change or say you had a psychic vision of her winning a free vacation to the village of a remote Amazon tribe; make a favorable comment about a politician you despise or crack a mocking joke about your hero. In the midst of a serious moment, break into a raucous limerick or describe a fantasy of getting yourself cloned.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): You're a gorgeous mystery teeming with noble aspirations. But like all of us, you also carry around an unripe mess of delusions and bad programming. Psychologist Carl Jung called this mess the shadow, but I prefer astrologer Steven Forrest's name for it: stuff. "Work on your stuff," he says, "or your stuff will work on you." In other words, it'll sabotage you if you're not proactive about transforming it. According to Forrest, your tribe has more stuff than the other signs, but you also have more tools to deal with it. According to me, you're now in a grace period when you could get away with not having to work as hard as usual on your stuff. Why not see if you can use this time to build up a surplus of karmic credit?

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Philosopher William James proposed that if our culture ever hoped to shed the deeply ingrained habit of going to war, we'd have to create a moral equivalent. It's not enough to preach the value of peace, he said. We have to find other ways to channel our aggressive instincts in order to accomplish what war does, like stimulate political unity and civic virtue. Astrology provides a complementary perspective. Each of us has the warrior energy of the planet Mars in our psychology. We can't afford to simply repress it, but must find a positive way to express it. It's time for you to find your own moral equivalent of war.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The party's over. Spilled wine is drying on the rug. The cheese dip is rancid. You'd go to bed but the pleasurable hum in your head turned into a nasty buzz a while back. But wait. What's this? As you grab your toothpaste from the medicine cabinet, you see a piece of folded paper. Opening it up, you find a mysterious invitation. Did someone at the party leave it here? "I didn't have a chance to get you alone at the party," it reads, "but I have important questions to ask you about mutually beneficial matters. Call me soon." A phone number follows. The scenario I've described may not literally occur this week, but it's an apt metaphor.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Most modern intellectuals laugh at the subject of angels, dismissing them as superstitious hallucinations or New Age goofiness. But not all deep thinkers have shared their scorn. Towering authors of old like Milton and Blake regarded angels as worthy of their explorations. Celestial beings have also received serious treatment by authors like Saul Bellow, E.M. Forster, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Leo Tolstoy. Of course just because smart people have considered the possibility that angels can have real effects on the material world doesn't mean you should. But if you're willing to open your mind, the coming weeks will present you with fascinating evidence.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Track down five fresh experiences that delight and amaze you. I'm not talking about well-worn standbys you always turn to when you're feeling blah. I don't mean trivial distractions that help numb you to the daily pain. Your mandate is to be inexhaustibly resourceful as you search high and low for revolutionary sources of pleasure. It's a quixotic quest. You'll have to fight off knee-jerk skepticism, evade habits of mind that attract swampy feelings and remain undaunted when cynics make fun of you. But if you can pull it off, it'll give you a tough new advantage over the uncontrollable moods that sometimes knock you all over the place. Act as if gratitude is a brand-new emotion you're tuning into for the first time. Then let it

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