Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In my book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, there's a 1500-word piece extolling a few of the many ways in which I feel that living on this planet is a glorious privilege. You're in a phase of your astrological cycle when it makes perfect sense for you to write something similar. To be in maximum alignment with cosmic luck, therefore, you should sit down and compose a list of everything that works well for you, delights you, and helps you feel at home in the world. Call it your "Joy Manifesto."

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): For the last nine years the daffodils in my yard have blossomed in mid-February. This time around, however, their yellow blooms sprouted in the first week of January. Another sign of global warming? I don't know. So far the flowers' early arrival hasn't been a problem. They're still going strong, showing a hardy resistance to sporadic bursts of cold and rain. According to my astrological analysis, Taurus, you have also ripened a bit prematurely. Ahead of schedule, you've accomplished your upgrade and are ready to try your hand at a spicier challenge. Like the daffodils, you will probably do fine. Just one piece of advice, though: Don't scrimp on your efforts to protect and nurture yourself.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Having ridden my mountain bike through Marin County's hills for years, I've watched Mt. Tamalpais go through endless changes. Depending on the weather, the season, and the time of day, it has been a different mountain on each occasion I've seen it. When the low-slung sun illuminates the thin layer of mist covering it late on a winter afternoon, for example, I can't believe it's the same mountain that lies beneath a full moon beaming down on it through a hole in the streaming clouds on a summer night. The poet in me says I'd be justified in giving it a new name on each of the thousands of times I've been in its presence. If you're honest, Gemini, you know that my relationship with Mt. Tamalpais is very much like your experience of the people you see every day. They're always fresh, always different from who they were last time. This is an ideal time to acknowledge and celebrate that mystery.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Two people in Evansville, Indiana were exploring an office building they wanted to buy. To the surprise of the owner, they discovered the structure had a second story that had been closed up for decades. The three of them gained access to the hidden area and found business papers that had last touched human hands in 1931. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, Cancerian, you will soon make a similar find. Sealed-off parts of your world you didn't know existed will become available for your inspection.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The Galactic Question Center at Galquest.blogspot.com asks you to imagine the following scenario: Upon awakening one morning, you find that you are lying on top of a mile-high pole that is 24 feet in diameter. Next to you is a can of unopened chicken soup, a tube of strong glue, a half-mile long rope, and a German shepherd dog. Can you come up with a way to get yourself back down to the ground? I don't think you will face this exact predicament in the coming week, Leo, but it has a metaphorical resemblance to a knotty riddle you'll be presented with. Fortunately, you have the brain power to solve it.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Burton Butler is Northern California's top Skunk Whisperer. Because he has developed a special rapport with skunks, he's often called on by spooked suburbanites to safely remove the critters when they take up residence in basements and garages. I believe you will have an analogous talent in the coming weeks, Virgo. Due to your smart, unsentimental brand of sensitivity, you will be able to defuse potentially smelly problems with little or no damage to either the stinker or stinkees.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In the science fiction film Contact, Jodie Foster plays a scientist who's chosen as an astronaut for a solo trip to an alien world far from our solar system. As she careens through a staggering array of sublime celestial phenomena, she muses aloud to herself, half crying, "It's so beautiful . . . so beautiful . . . They should have sent a poet." To properly understand and appreciate the experiences that lie ahead for you, Libra, adopt her advice: Awaken the poet within you, and let him or her lead the way as you go on your adventures. You say you don't have an inner poet? I disagree. We all have one. It's the part of you that thinks like the moon, dreams like the sun, and loves like the earth.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In her San Francisco Chronicle column, Leah Garchik reported that a woman shopping at a local Safeway grocery store had heard "Blitzkrieg Bop," a snarling anthem by the Ramones, playing over the loudspeaker. Was it an unfortunate development that besmirched the integrity of the seminal punk band, or a welcome sign that what was once raw rebel squawk is infiltrating the mainstream? You're ready to entertain an analogous question that pertains to your own personal quest for authenticity, Scorpio. Should you compromise a little so as to inject your influence into a setting where it's desperately needed? Or should you remain aloof and pure, content to affect mostly just those who already agree with you?

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): This should not be a race- down-an-eight-lane-superhighway kind of week, Sagittarius. From what I can tell, it's got to be an exploratory-meander-down-a-bunch-of-dirt-roads kind of week. In order to be exposed to what's important for you to learn, you'll have to take the scenic route through back country. Please don't be in a hurry. Regard the muddy patches and potholes as your allies. It's high time to slow down and smell the cow manure, which might be more accurately referred to as fertilizer.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): A psychologist in the U.K. believes that January 24 is the "most depressing day of the year," at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Cliff Arnall, whose specialty is seasonal disorders, says this day is typically a low point, when glum feelings generated by overcast weather, debt from the holidays, and broken New Year's resolutions reach a crescendo. While this might hold true for the other signs of the zodiac, Capricorn, it doesn't apply to you. The astrological omens reveal you're at the peak of your cycle, when you can triumph over challenges and accomplish breakthroughs that might normally be impossible. I suggest you proceed as if long- standing limitations have become irrelevant.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): A guy I met in a bar in New York's Lower East Side discoursed at length on the psycho-spiritual meaning of The Wizard of Oz. "The Wicked Witch of the West was Dorothy's greatest teacher," he told me. "The witch's animosity compelled her to learn new tricks, master her circumstances, and ultimately find her way home." I hope that lately you have been benefiting from your own personal version of the Wicked Witch, Aquarius, and I trust that you will soon graduate from your need for the lessons he or she has provided.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Krakow, Poland hasn't had a full- time rabbi on duty since the events of World War II decimated the once-thriving Jewish population. Recently that changed with the arrival of Rabbi Avraham Flaks from Israel. He has promised to help build solidarity in the small Jewish community that has arisen since the fall of Communism and the end of the Polish government's unofficial policy of anti-Semitism. I foresee a comparable development in your own life, Pisces. You are poised to experience a reawakening of spiritual impulses that have been dormant for some time. If you follow the clues you'll be given, it's quite possible that a teacher, leader, or other inspirational influence will come to catalyze further excitement.

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