Free Will Astrology

 ARIES (March 21-April 19): Your adversaries may have a tough time of it in the coming days. I bet their schemes will backfire, their bad hair days will be frequent, their ignorance will be glaringly visible, and the trouble they've caused will be punished. How should you react? You're allowed exactly one hour of gloating. Anything more will put you at risk of becoming more like them, which would be costly. In fact, I urge you to take this opportunity to disengage from them completely. Summon as much love and forgiveness as you can, beam it their way, and then do all you can to free yourself forever of their hold on your emotions and their influence on your actions.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The Johor Baru prison in Malaysia has begun offering thrill-seekers the opportunity to stay overnight. For a mere $17, a curious traveler can experience the adventure of getting locked in a dank cell, eating bad food, and having no pillow while sleeping on a wormy mattress. I sincerely hope that none of you will travel to this new tourist attraction in the coming week. For that matter, I trust you won't check into a metaphorical version of the place, either. There is absolutely no reason for you to visit other people's hells or mistake meaningless ordeals for adventures.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In the song "We Are Nowhere and It's Now," Bright Eyes' lead singer Conor Oberst croons, "I'm always lost in thought as I walk a block to my favorite neon sign." I love the fact that he has a favorite neon sign. Many people have a beloved tree or mountain or beach, but they would never deign to have a special fondness for a functional human-made object like a neon sign. Let his eccentric tenderness be an inspiration to you, Gemini. Look for beauty in people, places, and things you normally consider bereft of it.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): In his book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Charles C. Mann says that much of what we thought we knew is wrong. For example, civilization in the New World was in some ways more advanced than in Europe. Cities like the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had large populations that enjoyed clean streets, botanical gardens, and running water. Farmers in the Amazon exploited the resources of the rain forest without damaging it. Indigenous American philosophers developed sophisticated forms of democracy, while scientists developed ingenious techniques for breeding corn. I hope you'll do a similar revisioning of your own past in the coming weeks, Cancerian. It's a perfect time to come to a fresh, updated understanding of your personal history.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): "Dear Rob: I was watching TV coverage of New Orleans in the aftermath of the hurricane. At one point the helicopter's camera focused on a casino whose roof was on fire even though it was surrounded by floodwater. In a burst of recognition I thought, that's exactly how I feel right now--the lower part of me soaked, the top half of me blazing, and yet I'm unable to douse the fire with the water or evaporate the water with the fire. That was a while ago, but I still find myself in the same fix. Any advice? -Leo in Tucson." Dear Leo: In the coming week I suspect you will locate a resource or secret that will help you get the fire and water to work together synergistically.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your homework assignment for this week, should you choose to accept it, is to write an essay entitled "What I Didn't Do This Summer." In it, I'd like you to describe the exploits and projects you could have embarked on but never got around to, the changes you might have initiated but didn't, and the relationships you wished you would have deepened and enriched but instead neglected. The purpose is not so much to make you feel guilty but rather to get you motivated to do in the next few weeks what you missed doing the last three months. (To Virgos living in the Southern Hemisphere: Write an essay on "What I Didn't Do This Winter.")

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): There are still unexplored areas of the worldóAntarctica, New Guinea, and the Amazon, for instanceó but every square foot of Europe and North America has been charted, right? Wrong. Dick McDermott, a 92-year-old hiker, recently discovered a previously unknown 400-foot waterfall in the California wilderness. It's not on the map, and even the rangers of the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area were unaware of it. I predict you will soon enjoy a comparable find, Libra. Turf you thought you had all figured out will reveal hidden wonders.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In a series of articles about the Burning Man festival a few weeks ago, the San Francisco Chronicle included brief profiles of selected revelers. One woman named Mai testified that she planned to do things differently in this, her third visit to the annual week-long party in the Nevada desert. "I'm gonna try to remember more this time," she promised. That would be excellent approach for you to use in the coming days, Scorpio. The adventures will be arriving in fast and furious abundance, and though it may be a challenge for you to recall every single one of their many valuable teachings, you should try to do just that.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): German theologian Martin Luther (1483-1546) loved the Christian tradition but developed a deep dissatisfaction with what he regarded as the mistaken policies of the Church. In 1517 he wrote his famous "95 Theses," a manifesto of his complaints, and nailed the document to the door of a church in Wittenberg. The uproar that ensued eventually led to fundamental shifts in the practice of Christianity. I call on you to create your own version of the "95 Theses" in the coming weeks, Sagittarius. Articulate your critiques of an institution that you value and respect, and bring them to the attention of people who would be willing to work with you to initiate reform.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Psychologist Rollo May spoke of how important it is not to be drowned in the grungy flow of everyday life. To stay sane, let alone be healthy, we need influences that captivate our imaginations and remind us how we're more than the thousands of details that demand our attention from minute to minute. That's why he recommended that we seek out inspiring symbols and myths. They take us out of and beyond ourselves, evoking a purifying release. I bring this to your attention, Capricorn, because it's a great time for you to go shopping for fresh symbols and myths. To stimulate your imagination, here's a motif to consider: "Open sesame," the magical formula that Ali Baba used to unseal the door to a cave full of treasure in Arabian Nights.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "Ninety-nine percent of the world is asleep," Meg Ryan's character tells Tom Hanks'character in the film, Joe Versus the Volcano. "The one percent that is awake remains in a constant state of amazement." I nominate you Aquarians to be the ringleaders of that one percent in the coming week. The astrological omens suggest you will be shocked awake (but in a friendly way!) by a minor miracle, whereupon you will be visited by a steady surge of beguiling ephemera, curious teachings, and changes that inspire quiet awe, not to mention sudden deliverances from boring evils and enigmatic delights generated by unseen presences.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "Belief is the end of intelligence," says philosopher Robert Anton Wilson. The moment you become attached to an opinion or theory, no matter how good or true or beautiful it might seem, you're no longer fully open to the mysteries that life brings you. Your perceptiveness wanes and your understanding shrinks. This is always important to keep in mind, of course, but especially so this week. A wave of raw truth is headed your way, and yet you will miss it completely unless you take a vacation from your beliefs about the way the world works.

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