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Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Whenever I hike up to the ridge near my house, I feel a surge of admiration for an oak tree I pass. Unlike its companions, which are pointed skyward, it's growing sideways out of the hillside. I call it the Aries oak, because it reminds me of what you're like when you're at your best: unique and healthy; bucking the status quo but never in a way that damages you; not fiercely independent, but casually and blithely so. Strengthen your alignment with this ideal in the coming weeks.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The self-help book Women Who Love Too Much deals with a theme that has gotten a lot of play in the past 15 years: If you're too generous to someone who doesn't appreciate it and you ignore your own needs, you make yourself sick. An alternative perspective comes from French philosopher Blaise Pascal, who said, "When one does not love too much, one does not love enough." This week, explore the middle ground between the extremes represented by those two positions. Experiment and ruminate until you discern what amount of giving is just right for you.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): To paraphrase one of Amy Gerstler's poems, this week will taste like cough syrup. But the bitter flavor will be offset by a sweet aftertaste that's lent to the mix by a secret ingredient I'm not at liberty to divulge. The unpleasantness of the medicine going down will be compensated for by the tonic effects that will begin rippling through your life as early as next week.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): An Italian law student, Antonella Magnani, was entering the last stages of her pregnancy as her final exams approached. She hoped the two rites of passage would not transpire too closely to each other, but fate had other plans. Her labor pains brought her to the hospital at the exact time her test was scheduled. The law school examiners refused a postponement, but agreed to conduct their questioning in the delivery room. This is an apt symbol for the dual challenge you will soon face. In a sense you'll be giving birth as you take a final exam. (P.S.: Magnani had a healthy baby and got a good grade.)

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Just in time for zero hour, I'm happy to add a new term to your vocabulary: kairos. It's Greek for "time of destiny, critical turning point, propitious moment for decision or action." Since you're at that exact phase in your cycle, I thought you'd be ripe to learn the word for it. Kairos refers to a special season that's charged with significance and in a sense outside of normal time; its opposite is chronos. which refers to the drone of the daily rhythm. When you're in kairos, you have the power and duty to act like the sovereign of a sacred land.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I predict you will have a lavish amount of composure this week. It won't be tainted by arrogance or feelings of superiority, and it won't be fueled by a need to prove anything to anyone. Your poise will flow from your strong new link to your soul's code — the life blueprint you decided on before you were born. While you will be calm, you won't be passive or laid-back. This will be an electrifying variety of relaxation.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "Dear Dr. Brezsny: Does astrology work differently in Texas? I've lived all over the world, and I've found Libras who live in Texas to be unlike Libras everywhere else. Normal Libras love beautiful things, seek harmony and see opposing points of view as well as their own. But every Texan Libra I've ever met loves beautiful things only if they're big and loud, seeks harmony only if there's something in it for him and acknowledges opposing viewpoints only if it helps him win the arguments he loves to start. Your opinion? —Natural-Born Texan."

Dear Natural-Born: I was born in Texas and have three planets in Libra, so I'm not objective enough to comment. I do know that many non-Texan Librans will soon exhibit the behavior you described as typical of Lone Star Librans. But I think that's a good antidote for the sometimes-excessive Libran politeness.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): On those rare occasions when journalists deign to report a UFO sighting, they dutifully and dryly describe eyewitness accounts. But their juices start to flow when they offer the derisive dismissals of skeptics they've interviewed about the incident. This is typical: "Astronomy professor X said that even trained pilots can be fooled into thinking the planet Venus is a flying saucer." I wish this approach were applied to other kinds of news. Imagine a CNN anchor regurgitating the words he heard at a Pentagon news conference, then calling on leftist scholar Noam Chomsky to provide a skeptic's perspective. This is the approach you should take to every story you hear this week, even those told by friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances. Make it your burning mission to get alternate points of view.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Among his many fine tips for creating poetry, John Hewitt provides one useful in your own field of endeavor. "Write the worst poem you can possibly write," he advises. "Use clichés and pretentious words, and beat your reader over the head with your point. Felt good, didn't it? Now get back to work. The point is, don't be afraid to write a bad poem. If it takes a hundred bad poems before you can produce a poem you like, fine, get that hundred out of the way." You're entering a phase when you may have to wade through a heap of junk you don't care for before you find the gem you really want.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Novelist H.G. Wells once said, "If we want to have an educated citizenship in a modern technological society, we need to teach them three things: reading, writing, and statistical thinking." In my own list of essential expertise for today's educated person, I'd include reading and writing, but I’d replace statistics with the science of cultivating happiness or the art of carrying on a healthy intimate relationship. You're now able to learn a lot in a short time about those two skills.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Many men believe they'll never find romantic happiness unless they can hook up with a woman who resembles a supermodel or film star. Tragically, their libidos were imprinted at a tender age by our culture's narrow definition of what constitutes female beauty. They steer clear of many fine women who don't fit their absurd ideal. This addiction to a physical type is not confined to hetero dudes. Many straight women wouldn't think of dating a bald, short guy no matter how interesting he is. But with sincere effort, anyone can shed the outmoded imprints that prevent them from being turned on by otherwise-attractive partners. You now have increasing power to do just that.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You need the soul medicine that only a wild place can provide. Civilized habits are eating away at your instinct for happiness. The insidious taint of omnipresent commercialism is infecting even your purest desires and noblest ambitions. You owe it to your sanity to run away to a power spot that is immune to human manipulation — a sanctuary where nature is so big and free and intense it will dissolve the petty obsessions your ego has gotten twisted up in. What are you waiting for? Leave as soon as possible, and don't come back until you're scoured clean. If you knew you were going to live to 100 in good health, what three additional careers would you pursue? Testify at

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