Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The U.S. government is spending over $500,000 per minute on the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil is raking in about $73,000 of profit per minute. Is there any connection? Though I have my suspicions, I don't know for sure. I do know that the coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to phase out any situation in your personal life that resembles America's cash drain in Iraq. It will also be a favorable period for you to brainstorm about how you could upgrade your financial intake to be more like Exxon Mobil's.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "The greatest poverty is boredom," said one of my teachers, Ann Davies. "The greatest hell is not having a goal." Make those ideas your touchstones as you carry out a twofold assignment. First, use all your ingenuity to banish any reasons you might have to feel bored. Second, invoke your craftiest optimism and wildest discipline as you identify a goal whose pursuit will move you ever closer to the state the mystics call heaven-on-earth.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In a study of pop songs, sociologists from the University of Colorado concluded that love isn't as popular a topic as it used to be. Bestselling tunes sung by women rarely use words like "care" and "cherish" anymore, and references to love have declined precipitously. Meanwhile, male singers ignore love and obsess on sex far more than they once did, and both genders revel in pain and selfishness at a higher rate. I tell you this, Gemini, as a prelude to announcing your assignment, which is to counteract the trend I just described. For the foreseeable future, be a prolific genius of love, a creator of beautiful collaborations, an unsentimental devotee of sweet and tender intimacy.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): "Many a man fails to become a thinker for the sole reason that his memory is too good," wrote Friedrich Nietzsche. I suggest you contemplate that riddle, Cancerian. Is your ability to stir up new perspectives sometimes hindered by the deep feelings you have about your history? Is it possible that past experiences you've grown to treasure tend to diminish your motivation to reinvent yourself periodically? If so, it's a perfect time to break free of the old days and old ways. Induce a little forgetfulness so that you're more available for the future.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Is there really such a thing as free will, or are our destinies shaped by forces beyond our control? Here's one way to think about that question: Maybe some people actually have more free will than others. Not because they have more money. (Many rich folks are under the spell of their instincts, after all.) Not because they have a high-status position. (A boss may have power over others but little power over himself.) Rather, those with a lot of free will have earned that privilege by taking strong measures to dissolve the conditioning they absorbed while growing up. They've acted on the advice of psychologist Carl Jung: "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." As you enter the phase of your astrological cycle when more free will is yours for the taking, Leo, meditate on these thoughts.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The billboard I saw said, "Develop a recreational habit that won't show up in your urine." I didn't catch what product it was advertising, but there was an image of a hang-glider, so I figure it was promoting outdoor sports as a preferable alternative to taking drugs. The billboard message happens to be excellent advice for you, Virgo. In the coming weeks, you'll be wise to seek liberating adventure and explore new modes of natural fun. Doing so will steer you away from a path that could lead to messy adventure and decadent fun.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Why do people have sex? A study by the University of Texas found that there are 237 reasons, from "I wanted to communicate at a deeper level" to "I wanted to boost my self-esteem" to "I wanted to be closer to God." According to my research, Libra, you're likely to be motivated by as many as 25 of those factors in the coming weeks, way up from your average of eight. We might logically conclude, then, that you may seek out erotic experiences at a rate three times your norm. (Here's more about the 237 reasons: tinyurl.com/24av4j, tinyurl.com/22z9ep, and tinyurl.com/346xxp.)

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge," says educator Bill Bullard. "It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another's world. It requires profound, purpose-larger-than-the-self kind of understanding." In that spirit, Scorpio, I encourage you to renounce three of your opinions, preferably those that are least-well-informed and not rooted in first-hand experience. I also challenge you to carry out a week-long experiment based on the following hypothesis: Expanding your capacity for empathy will make you smarter.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Your metaphorical pregnancy has gone on rather long. No reason to panic. I'm sure your brainchild or masterpiece will arrive shortly. But just for fun, maybe you could watch a time-lapse film of a rose opening. That was helpful in expediting the birth process for two new mothers I know. Here are two other tricks to try, even if the blessed event you're about to enjoy is purely symbolic: Arrange to be in a place where a storm is coming on. Folk tradition says that labor often follows drops in barometric pressure. Or get a hold of rings made from a rattlesnake tail. Early American explorers Lewis and Clark gave them to their Native American guide Sacagawea when it was near her time, and they seemed to magically expedite the baby's arrival.

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