Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I was at an airport bookstore. A businessman near me plucked Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted from the shelf and said to his companion, "I've heard this book makes some people actually vomit. Listen to this passage." He read it aloud. It was about a guy who eats ten freeze-dried turkey dinners, and dies when his stomach literally explodes. Moments after reciting this gruesome tale, the businessman collapsed and went into convulsions. I knelt down and cradled his head. A saleswoman called paramedics, and 15 minutes later he was fine. "That never happened to me before," he said. "I don't have epilepsy. It must have been a reaction to what I read." The moral of the story, Aries: Words will have potent effects on you in the coming days. You should therefore surround yourself not with Palahniuk-type curses but with good news and uplifting stories and people who dispense articulate blessings.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): I heard a guy on the radio tell the following story. He and his wife stopped to enjoy a sunset. After a few minutes, they noticed that its breathtaking beauty remained static; the scene wasn't evolving. Upon further investigation, they registered the embarrassing fact that they had actually been admiring an image on a billboard. Make sure a similar event doesn't happen to you, Taurus. Avoid getting hooked on substitutes, stand-ins, or simulacrums. Insist on the real thing.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In her song "Deeper Well," Emmylou Harris says she's "looking for the water from a deeper well." Make that your assignment, Gemini. And if you're feeling brave, extend your search to an even more challenging quest: what Harris refers to as searching for a "holier grail." According to my reading of the omens, your biggest, brightest dream isn't as big and bright as it could be. Raise your standards.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The omens suggest that you're most likely to be happy and healthy in the coming weeks if you treat the whole world as your classroom. Thank God, then, that you won't suffer anytime soon from sophophobia (a fear of learning) or optophobia (fear of opening one's eyes). It's my duty to inform you, however, that you could experience politicophobia (fear of politicians) or myxophobia (fear of slime). Ironically, that would be quite lucky, because it's crucial that you avoid manipulative power-brokers and mud-slinging know-it-alls who might confuse you about the educational experiences you need to pursue.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): "Raising kids is like making pancakes," muses Brian Copeland in his show Not a Genuine Black Man. "You always mess up the first one." A similar idea might apply to a certain multi-pronged project you've been working on, Leo. I'm not saying you should abandon or throw away your initial effort. On the contrary, like rookie parents whose inexperience has slightly tweaked their first-born, you should be thorough in trying to undo your mistakes. But I also suggest that you immediately get started on the next creation in the series, being sure you've learned all you can from the consequences of your earlier ignorance.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): My old philosophy professor Norman O. Brown would periodically interrupt his lectures, tilt his head upward as if tuning into the whisper of some heavenly voice, and announce in a mischievous tone, "It's time for your irregular reminder: We're already living after the end of the world. No need to fret anymore." The implication was that the worst had already happened. We had already lost most of the cultural riches that had given humans meaning for centuries. All that was going to be taken from us had already been taken. On the bright side, that meant we were utterly free to reinvent ourselves. Living amidst the emptiness, we had nowhere to go but up. What remained was alienating, but it was also fresh. Use these ideas as seeds for your meditations, Virgo. You can apply them to both your personal life and the world at large.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Novelist Jeanette Winterson told a TV interviewer about her mother's strongest belief: "You can be happy, or else you can be like normal people." This idea applies to you right now, Libra–maybe more than you realize. From what I can tell, you're at a crossroads in your relationship with happiness. You could go either way, and it's mostly up to you: Will you tame your urges for wild joy, repress your instincts to follow your lyrically crazy heart, and surrender to the dull insanity of the maddening crowd? Or would you prefer the scarier, more eccentric and action-packed route that will constantly push you to enlarge your capacity to feel good?

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Sculptor Luis Jiminez was renowned for making large pieces with political themes that incited controversy. In "The Barfly," created during the Vietnam War, he depicted the Statue of Liberty as a drunken floozy. "Vaquero" shows a Mexican cowboy riding a bucking stallion and waving a gun. It not only satirizes the pretentious statues of military leaders on horses that are often found in parks; it's also a reminder that the original cowboys of the American West were Mexicans. "It's not my job to censor myself," Jimenez said. "An artist's job is to constantly test the boundaries." Whether or not you're an artist yourself, Scorpio, your next assignment is aligned with Jiminez's approach: Don't censor yourself as you test the boundaries.

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