~ ASTROLOGY ~

ARIES

(March 21-April 19)

The Weekly World News suggests that we celebrate a new holiday this week, National Hate Day. For 24 hours, it would be socially acceptable to drain off the rancid opinions, bitter spleen, and sickening ideas we\’ve been hoarding. While every sign of the zodiac can profit from this massive purge of psychic pus, no one has as much need or would experience more healthful benefits than you Aries. For best results, add a touch of humor to your howls, and don\’t you dare actually hurt anyone. Screaming gibberish into a lavender-scented pillow is especially recommended.

TAURUS

(April 20-May 20)

"In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts," wrote American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. "They come back to us with a certain alienated majesty." The first part of your assignment, Taurus, is to identify other people\’s brilliant creations that remind you of good ideas of your own that you\’ve failed to develop. The second part of your assignment is to do something–anything!–to correct for your neglect. Get started on your own masterpiece.

GEMINI

(May 21-June 20)

In 1957, when Melba Patillo Beales was 15 years old, she and eight other students volunteered to be the first African Americans to integrate all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. For months, she and her cohorts were spat upon, beat up, and threatened with death by bigots. Her grandmother stayed awake all night holding a loaded shotgun, guarding the family home against assaults. Years later Beales wrote Warriors Don\’t Cry, a memoir of that traumatic time. I have a psychotherapist friend in Seattle who gives copies of this book to certain clients who are inclined to inflate their own suffering. "Read about Beales\’ ordeal," she tells them, "and you\’ll feel less overwhelmed by your own problems." That\’s your assignment, Gemini. Study people whose lot in life is far worse than yours. Get some perspective.

CANCER

(June 21-July 22)

Praising actor Jim Carrey at the MTV Movie Awards, Will Ferrell proclaimed "This man\’s versatility makes Thomas Jefferson look like a big fat idiot." That\’s rather hyperbolic, considering that Jefferson was not only President of the United States, but also an architect, author, musician, horticulturist, lawyer, archaeologist, inventor, surveyor, and mathematician. Let\’s say, to be more accurate, that Carrey is maybe five percent as versatile as Jefferson. That will help you get a realistic understanding of my meaning when I tell you that though you may not make Jim Carrey look like a big fat idiot in the coming weeks, you\’ll have the potential to match his multifaceted, adaptable, puttylike resourcefulness.

LEO

(July 23-Aug. 22)

When offered a choice between dueling interpretations, you should opt for elegant and generous stories over vulgar, boring, and unimaginative tales. While the no-nonsense, just-the-facts approach may seem to explain everything just fine, I assure you that there will always be catalytic enigmas lurking beneath the surface. This is one time when poet John Keats\’ rule will be in full effect: "If something is not beautiful, it is probably not true." Transcend the obvious, please. Rebel against the ravaging numbness of plain old everyday ugliness.

VIRGO

(Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

Editors at the prestigious UK medical journal Lancet have called for the legalization of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. They\’re not envisioning a thousand totally buzzed freaks dancing deliriously at an outdoor festival, however. Rather, they want to make it possible for researchers to carefully explore the therapeutic benefits of altering consciousness. "The blanket ban on psychedelic drugs continues to hinder safe and controlled investigation of their potential benefits," they said. Be inspired by their example, Virgo. What taboo is it high time for you to break in a discerning way? What inhibition no longer serves you, even though at one time it might have kept you safe and sane? What conventional wisdom based on fear has infected you, preventing you from experimenting with exciting possibilities?

LIBRA

(Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

I really encourage you to have a celebration. The planets are urging you to revel and rejoice, too. I wouldn\’t be surprised if God Herself is rooting for you to whip up festivities worthy of a jubilee. So what are you waiting for? What? You say you don\’t have anything to celebrate? I beg to differ. How about extolling the end of your addiction to a time-wasting delusion? Or maybe the loss of a "privilege" that encouraged you to be lazy, or the end of a false hope that kept you stuck in the past? How about if you throw a party to express your gratitude at finally being forced to embrace a creative limitation that will ultimately set you free?

SCORPIO

(Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

What happens to buttered toast when it accidentally falls off a table? According to folk wisdom, it\’s more likely to land buttered face down, and hence create a bigger mess than if it had fallen dry side down. In a research paper published in the European Journal of Physics, Robert A. J. Matthews scientifically verified that this folk wisdom is accurate. Or at least it is when conditions are normal. But conditions are far from normal for you, Scorpio. Cosmic assistance and good luck are flowing your way in such abundance that they\’re rendering some laws of nature temporarily irrelevant. If you knock your toast off the table each morning for the next 15 days (and it\’s quite possible you will, given how excitable you are), it\’s not likely to ever fall butter-side down.

SAGITTARIUS

(Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

"If you want to upset the law that all crows are black," wrote William James, "you mustn\’t show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white." Philosopher Jonathan Zap applies this idea to his ruminations about telepathy. He says that if there is even one irrefutable case in which two minds have communicated with each other at a distance and without the aid of technology, then telepathy must be a fundamental human capacity. I believe this is an important line of thought for you to consider, Sagittarius. Why? Because you\’ve entered the Season of the White Crow.

CAPRICORN

(Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

If you were at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert right now, you might be racing your souped-up tricycle through a miniature golf course-style maze while dressed in a superhero costume, after which you\’d enjoy a sushi dinner served on the naked belly of a good-looking clown. Or maybe you\’d be exploring the benefits of a short duration marriage to a temporary soulmate selected for you by a seven-year-old girl deity sitting on a neon green plastic throne surrounded by a circle of flame. Since you\’re probably not at Burning Man, however, you\’ve got to find other ways to carry out your astrological mandate, which is to enjoy semi-crazy acts of liberation you\’d normally never try.

AQUARIUS

(Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

"Why just ask the donkey in me to speak to the donkey in you when I have so many other beautiful animals and brilliant colored birds inside that are all longing to say something wonderful and exciting to your heart?" That\’s the question Daniel Ladinsky asks in his translation of a poem by the Persian mystic poet Hafiz. I\’d like you to ponder it, Aquarius. You\’re in a phase when you have an exceptional ability to bring out the best and brightest in your allies. Uncoincidentally, doing that will result in your allies having a magical ability to bring out the best and brightest in you.

PISCES

(Feb. 19-March 20)

If you\’re alert, people whose magic you had become deadened to will reveal stirring secrets. Places you\’ve visited a thousand times may seem to have undergone an overnight transformation, exposing you to a series of mini-awakenings that ultimately add up to a full-blown aha. You may find yourself penetrating to the heart of mysteries that you previously didn\’t even realize were mysteries. By week\’s end, if you\’re brave enough to keep welcoming the surprises, you will be ripped free from an especially sneaky illusion and reunited with a lost fragment of your soul.

Astrology

ARIES

(March 21-April 19)
\”Baksheesh\” is a term derived from the Persian term for \”gift.\” Among travelers in the Third World, it has several meanings, among which are these: (1) bribes paid to authorities to get them to stop hassling you; (2) tips given to strangers who insist on being of assistance by, say, opening a door for you even if you don\’t want them to. I believe baksheesh will soon serve as an apt metaphor for you, Aries. Be ready to offer compensation to people in order to get them to both stop bothering you and stop \”helping\” you. (P.S.: The compensation you give may not necessarily be in the form of cash. It could be flattery, presents, or useful information.)

TAURUS

(April 20-May 20)
The biggest food fight on the planet will soon take place. More than 20,000 lunatic combatants will gather in the Spanish town of Buñol to hurl 45 tons of overripe tomatoes and other veggies at each other. Maybe you should book a flight there, Taurus. You\’d do yourself a big favor by indulging in senseless but harmless mayhem that allows you to lose control in the name of fun. Nothing would be more healing than a big dose of maniacal fervor.

GEMINI

(May 21-June 20)
Russ Kick searches for messy facts that lie half-hidden beneath the official versions of reality. In his two volumes entitled 50 Things You\’re Not Supposed to Know, he reveals, for example, that most corporations don\’t pay federal income taxes, George Washington embezzled government money, a third of all American homeless men are military veterans, and Shakespeare filled his plays with sexual references. Russ Kick is your role model, Gemini. May he inspire you to find out about at least three things you\’re not \”supposed\” to know. May you adopt his brazen approach as you breeze in to off-limits areas to get the scoop on tantalizing truths that have been missing in action.

CANCER

(June 21-July 22)
Throughout history there have been secret schools that don\’t advertise their existence. To enroll, students must either be invited or else stumble on them by chance. In post-Renaissance Europe, for example, Rosicrucian mystery schools taught an esoteric form of Christianity at odds with the Church. Seventeenth-century English poet Andrew Marvell and his cohorts had their underground School of the Night, and ancient Greek poet Sappho stealthily gathered young women at her Moisopholon, \”House of the Muses.\” In recent years the Sexy Bratty Genius School has periodically convened classes at 3 a.m. under a highway overpass in San Francisco. According to my reading of the current omens, Cancerian, you\’re close to making contact with a similar source of teaching. Whether you end up actually matriculating depends on how you answer the question, \”Do you want to learn about things you\’ve considered impossible?\”

LEO

(July 23-Aug. 22)
Psychologists Ed Diener and Martin E.P. Seligman cite 150 studies that suggest economic factors have little to do with happiness levels. For example, the Masai of Kenya, whose per capita income is under $300 a year, are as satisfied with their lives as the 400 wealthiest plutocrats in America. People living in the slums of Calcutta are slightly less filled with well-being, but not much. Your assignment, Leo, is to explore the personal implications of this. Can you get to the point where you truly feel that your ability to enjoy life has little to with how much money you have?

VIRGO

(Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
Philosopher George Gurdjieff declared that most of us are essentially asleep, even as we walk around in broad daylight. We\’re ignorant about the higher levels of awareness we\’re capable of; we\’re blind to the continuous flow of life\’s miraculous blessings. He said that in order to wake up and stay awake we need regular shocks. Some of these are uncomfortable, forcing us to face our own stupidity. But other shocks are delightful. They\’re doses of sacred medicine that entice us to shake off our sleepiness and come to attention in pleasurable ways. I believe that in the coming weeks you\’ll be offered a steady supply of the latter.

LIBRA

(Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
At the BFD concert near San Francisco in June, Yeah Yeah Yeahs\’ lead singer Karen O screamed for two minutes and 17 seconds straight. (I timed it.) I recommend that you set aside some quality time in the next two weeks to experiment with big outbreaks of self-expression that resemble hers. It\’s the Purge and Purify Season for you–a time when you should indulge in high-spirited activities that exorcise your demons, wash your brain, and incite toe-curling, sweat-inducing, soul-animating catharses.

SCORPIO

(Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
An artist in Santa Fe, New Mexico built a replica of England\’s famous Stonehenge. But instead of using huge slabs of rock to mimic the original, Adam Horowitz erected his spectacular monument with 200 old refrigerators. Hence its name: Stonefridge. This would be a perfect time for you to draw inspiration from his efforts, Scorpio. Create your own personal imitation of a resource you love–a beautifully funky, playfully accessible substitute for a marvel that is impossible for you to own or control.

SAGITTARIUS

(Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
As I contemplate your week ahead, I can\’t help but think of the Butthole Surfers\’ song \”Pepper\”: \”They were drinking from a fountain / that was pouring like an avalanche / coming down the mountain.\” Are you ready for much, much more of everything that interests and stimulates you, Sagittarius? Can you imagine what you\’d have to do to expand your capacity for big emotions and provocative sensations? Of course not: No one can be fully prepared for an avalanche. But do the wildest best you can, and your lust for life will provide you with all the intuitions you need.

CAPRICORN

(Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
It\’s Fake Smile Week. On the one hand, that means you should be on guard for people who are pretending to feel better than they actually do. I urge you to forgive them for their deception, but don\’t get derailed by it. On the other hand, you yourself should put on a happy face as a disguise when you\’re not sure what exactly is going on. In other words, it\’s best to act agreeable until you gather all the information necessary to make a sound decision. Is the advice I\’m offering hypocritical? Only if you use it to serve your narrow self-interests. But if you\’re intent on doing what\’s best for all concerned, my counsel is ethically impeccable.

AQUARIUS

(Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
At the Coachella music festival, I found myself next to a guy sporting a rainbow mohawk and wearing a red, white, and blue speedo, black socks, golf shoes, a striped necktie, angel wings, a red clown nose, and a battered hard hat with a sticker that read \”Martinis and brown rice.\” At one point he turned to me and said, \”You know what I like most about being an Aquarius? It\’s a never-ending opportunity to send out mixed messages in a friendly, non-manipulative way.\” That got me to thinking about how most of us are addicted to thinking in simplistic categories and obsessed with making sense. Sending out mixed messages, therefore, can be valuable if it\’s done in a spirit of compassionate play, because it subverts those bad habits. Of all the signs in the zodiac, you Aquarians do this best. I hope you ply your specialty lavishly in the coming weeks. People in your life have an acute need to get their certainties scrambled.

PISCES

(Feb. 19-March 20)
You\’ve entered the Intimacy Intensification Season. Are you ready to dive deeper into the mysteries of togetherness? If so, you\’ll meet provocative candidates for future alliances, and people you already know and love will become more available. As you can imagine, it\’ll be crucial for you to study the truths of your own heart with ruthless honesty. There\’ll be no excuse for getting tangled up with so-called \”pleasures\” that don\’t really activate your most fervent zeal. Exercise extreme discrimination, please, even as you seek out thrills that make you brilliantly crazy.
Homework: Identify the part of you that you trust the least. Then think up a test whereby that part of you will be challenged to express maximum integrity. Testify at www.freewillastrology.com.

~ 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.

SAGITTARIUS

(Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

There are now as many people working at Wal-Mart stores as there are high-school teachers. Can anything be done to change this depressing state of affairs? Well, it so happens that the time is ripe for you Sagittarians to cultivate your skill at sharing what you know. It\’s also an excellent phase to cultivate your ability to inspire and energize your fellow humans. So if just one percent of you use this pregnant moment as a springboard to launch careers as high-school educators, Wal-Mart employees would no longer outnumber you and your heroic colleagues. And even if you personally decide not to go in that direction, I hope you at least think more about what you have to teach the world, and take steps to give your gifts more aggressively.

CAPRICORN

(Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Philosopher Robert Anton Wilson said that "the universe acts like a chess game in which the player on the other side remains invisible to us. By analyzing the moves, we can form an image of the intellect behind them." The coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to gain insights into that other chess player, Capricorn. You will have an extraordinary capacity for setting aside your own subjective mind-chatter and seeing the objective truth. You\’ll also be more skilled than usual at understanding what\’s going on in the shadows and darkness. The hidden world is whispering secrets in codes you can crack.

AQUARIUS

(Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

It\’s time for you to fall in love, Aquarius–though not necessarily with a person. You could swoon with infatuation for a place where your heart feels free, for example. You could dive into new music that liberates you from your past, or give yourself with abandon to a fascinating task that brings out the best in you. You might lose your heart to a mind-expanding mentor, a mysterious animal, or a thrilling fight for justice. It really doesn\’t matter exactly how or what you fall in love with, Aquarius, as long as it incites you to break open the doors of perception.

PISCES

(Feb. 19-March 20)

Last week\’s symbol was a boot kicking with futility at a closed door that was locked in response to your kicking; it bespoke a frustrated strength that provoked even greater resistance. This week\’s symbol will be dramatically different: bare feet climbing a rope ladder to a dance floor on a roof where a telescope is trained on the planet Jupiter. In this new phase, there will still be obstacles for you to overcome. But the emphasis will be on craft and agility rather than force and instinct. And this time around the most grounded part of you will find lots of luck and slack.

~ ASTROLOGY ~

ARIES

(March 21-April 19)

In 1986, an accident at the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine caused a nuclear meltdown. Radioactive waste spewed into the air, making the area uninhabitable. Twenty years later, humans are still absent, but wildlife is thriving. Native populations of badgers, wild boars, and deer have multiplied, and species that had disappeared before the disaster, like the lynx and eagle owl, have returned in abundance. Birds are even nesting in the steel and concrete "sarcophagus" built over the exploded reactor. This is not to say that everything\’s peachy. There are many problems lingering from the original devastation. I propose to you, Aries, that the situation in Chernobyl is a metaphor for something in your personal life. A place within you that endured a trauma has rebounded surprisingly, though it\’s still wounded. Take inventory, then raise the ante on the healing process.

TAURUS

(April 20-May 20)

The UK is populated by hordes of "overweight, alco-pop-swilling, sex-and-celebrity-obsessed television addicts," according to the travel book Rough Guide to England. I recommend, therefore, that you avoid traveling to that part of the world if you\’re a sensitive person who\’s susceptible to taking on the attitudes of the people around you. The astrological omens suggest that you should take stringent measures to exorcise any impulses you might have to indulge in excessive consumption of bad food, numbing intoxicants, superficial sex, dumbed-down entertainment, and mindless gossip about famous lightweights. For that matter, you should be ruthless in sealing yourself off from influences that tend to bring out the worst and the mediocre parts of you.

GEMINI

(May 21-June 20)

The wife of pro baseball pitcher Chris Benson has made public her desire to experience a wide array of erotic diversity while remaining faithful to her husband. "I would like to have sex with Chris in every major league stadium in North America," Anna Benson told the press. She\’s your role model for the coming week, Gemini. Your assignment is to expand the variety and explore the frontiers of your familiar pleasures.

CANCER

(June 21-July 22)

A reader named Amanda Jarosz has offered an alternative to the traditional name for our astrological sign: Canswer, a blend of "can" and "answer." It\’s not a viable long-term solution, but it would make a lot of sense in the immediate future. Here\’s why. According to my analysis of the omens, you\’ll be able to get a useful answer to just about any question as long as you craft it with thoughtful precision. So for example, "How can I get more love?" is a sloppy formulation that won\’t yield fruitful insights, whereas "What long-term plan can I set in motion that will help me earn more of the care and blessings I deserve from doing what I\’m good at?" will be a gem.

LEO

(July 23-Aug. 22)

A few weeks ago, eight-year-old Harrison Vonderau was playing golf with his dad on a course in Cleveland when he shot a hole-in-one. Father and son experienced an even more shocking delight 20 minutes later when the boy scored yet another hole-in-one. It was an almost unbelievable accomplishment for anyone, let alone a kid. Harrison is your role model for the coming week, Leo. I predict that a young part of you–either your inner child or your inner teenager–will score an unlikely and spectacular coup, the equivalent of two holes-in-one.

VIRGO

(Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

Of all the times in your life when you have been in captivity, this has to be one of the least arduous and frustrating ever. I\’ll go so far as to say that I have rarely seen a more beautiful prisoner than you; for a drudge in bondage, you\’re ravishing. As hard as it may be to contemplate, however, it\’s almost time to escape. Your dark though sexy night of the soul will soon come to an end. Don\’t you dare linger any longer than you have to.

LIBRA

(Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

USA Today did a profile on business guru Doug Hall, who\’s famous for his unconventional approaches to stimulating creativity. One of his techniques is "left brain, right brain storming." Transcending plain old everyday brainstorming, it\’s done with a team that blends people who specialize in rational, linear thought (left brain) and those who are skilled at letting their imaginations go a little crazy (right brain). May I suggest you try it out? The coming week is a perfect time to undo your attraction to what has always worked before, and start heading in the direction of the unknown future.

SCORPIO

(Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

Physicists at Washington University in St. Louis have found that introducing disorder into certain messy situations may actually spawn order. It happened as they worked with a network of interconnected pendulums that were all waving around chaotically. When they brought random forces to bear on the tumult, the pendulums locked into sync. The physicists\’ results may not necessarily imply a universal law you should invoke in every circumstance, but it does happen to be applicable to you right now. The more unpredictable, effervescent, and even unruly you are–especially in the face of confusing circumstances–the better chance you will have of generating elegant success, and maybe even some beauty, truth, and love as well.

SAGITTARIUS

(Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

In Britain\’s last census, 390,000 people declared themselves to be members of the Jedi faith–a fictional religion depicted in the Star Wars movies. That was heartening to those of us who lobby for a wider array of belief systems. My ultimate hope, however, is for there to be 6.5 billion different religions–a singular form of worship for each person on the planet. It happens to be a perfect astrological phase for you to advance that cause, Sagittarius: to break out of the pack and fashion your own unique spiritual path. It\’s also an excellent time to dream up a new political party that intimately reflects every one of your idiosyncratic views, and to identify yourself as a member of a brand new racial or ethnic group that has never before been defined. Whip up your own niches!

CAPRICORN

(Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Recently my nine-year-old bike has developed an unfortunate glitch. When I ride up hills, and only when I ride up hills, the chain periodically gets lodged in the transmission mechanism. If I act quickly, taking action the instant I hear the incipient grinding noise, there\’s something I can do to fix the problem and keep from lurching to a halt: I have to temporarily pedal backwards; doing that frees the chain from its stuck place. So picture this scene: As I ascend, I\’m able to push forward for long stretches, but now and then have to pedal in reverse, slipping backward a few feet. From what I can tell, Capricorn, this is similar to the rhythm your life has right now. It\’s OK to bitch about it, as I do during my travail, but you should also feel grateful for the way it\’s building your strength and character. P.S. I predict you will reach the top by September.

AQUARIUS

(Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

The often-inebriated Calamity Jane character on HBO\’s TV show Deadwood uttered words that are important for you to take to heart. I\’ll paraphrase her observation in order to streamline her drunken syntax: "Every day you have to figure out how to live all over again." Of course this is always true, Aquarius, but it\’s even more intensely apt for you right now. The good news is that you\’ll be unusually skilled at deciphering the ever-changing rules of the master game, and you\’re also likely to have maximum fun while doing so.

PISCES

(Feb. 19-March 20)

"Anger or bitterness toward those who have hurt you will block your path to higher ground," said inspirational author Vernon Howard. "You can have anger toward people or you can have freedom from people, but you can\’t have both." I suggest you make that one of your guiding thoughts in the coming week, Pisces. An undreamed-of burst of liberation is now possible for you if you compel yourself to experiment with radical generosity on the wild frontiers of forgiveness.

~ ASTROLOGY ~

ARIES

(March 21-April 19)

Reading this horoscope could not only stimulate waves of pleasurable endorphins in your brain, it may also fine-tune your immune system, increase your calorie-burning power, promote relaxation of the smooth muscles of the digestive tract, enlarge any part of your body you want to enlarge, and cut down the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and delusions about romance. To activate the potential health benefits contained herein, all you have to do is love everyone and everything with more compassionate ingenuity and playful zeal than you ever have before.

TAURUS

(April 20-May 20)

Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, columnist Jon Carroll told the story of educational activist Diane Mintz. When she began tutoring elementary school kids in the Bay Area\’s poorest neighborhoods, she was shocked to realize how thoroughly poverty had shrunken their horizons. Many had never glimpsed the Golden Gate Bridge, a wonder of the world that\’s a few miles from their homes. Some didn\’t even know this marvel existed. "Their mental map of their larger community was pinched and drab," wrote Carroll. On occasion, those of us who aren\’t so destitute suffer from a similar diminishment. For example, I suspect that many of you Tauruses are in danger of letting your vistas dwindle right now. As a pre-emptive antidote, I suggest you make pilgrimages to beautiful people and intriguing sights and exhilarating places that blow your mind in the best ways.

GEMINI

(May 21-June 20)

Ocean Dome is a huge indoor beach and water park on an island in Japan. Fabricated to create the ideal seaside conditions, it features artificial white sand and machine-generated waves that are high enough to surf. Air and water temperatures never waver from a comfortable range. There\’s an amusing irony about the place, though: Less than 1,000 feet away from its metal facade, there\’s an actual ocean and beach. Does this remind you of any situation in your own life, Gemini? It should. In my opinion, you\’d get more enjoyment out of the real thing than the synthetic substitute.

CANCER

(June 21-July 22)

Thanks for being one of the 9.4 million readers who are making 2006 another record-breaking year for Free Will Astrology. The number of people turning to this column for guidance and amusement continues to climb. My Google ranking among astrology sites on the Web is holding steady at sixth in the world. Recently I also received the coveted Nostradamus Lifetime Achievement Award for Prophecy and Divination. Should I therefore ask for more money from everyone who publishes my column? I\’ve decided against that because–surprise!–I\’m quite happy with how everything\’s going. You, on the other hand, should think about raising your rates. Those of us who are born under the sign of Cancer the Crab are in a phase when it makes sense to acknowledge our accomplishments and make sure we\’re being compensated properly for them.

LEO

(July 23-Aug. 22)

"Sometimes it\’s not how good you are but how bad you want it," read the t-shirt of a guy buying a lottery ticket at the convenience store. While I don\’t think he was making the best use of that philosophy–playing a game of chance heavily weighted against his success–I do think it\’s a principle worth meditating on, especially for you right now, Leo. Your skill and understanding are certainly not irrelevant as you push to the next level of your quest, but they are less important than the intensity of your longing.

VIRGO

(Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

"If you are going through hell, keep going," said Winston Churchill. Let that advice be your inspiration in the coming week, Virgo. But wait: Before you jump to conclusions about what I\’m saying, know this: Your tests and trials will be far, far less hellish than the ordeals Churchill faced as he led England through World War II. It\’s true that you may feel a bit tortured in the heat of the moment, though. So don\’t you dare slow down to feel sorry for yourself or scream at the chaos-makers. Keep plodding forward, secure in my assurance that you\’ll cross the border and exit out of the infernal regions well before you\’re exhausted.

LIBRA

(Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Elizabeth Bishop was determined to let each of her poems fully ripen before she published it. Rather than give her gifts to the world prematurely, she was willing to wait decades to make sure she had truly captured their diamond essence. I hope you\’re prepared to be as patient, Libra. You\’ve been gestating a valuable labor of love, and it deserves to be blessed with the lavish totality of your careful attention before being unleashed.

SCORPIO

(Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

The Colorado state legislature tried to pass a law requiring public schools to put wholesome food in their vending machines. But the governor vetoed the bill, declaring that schools need the revenue from nutrient-free chips, sodas, and candy bars to finance their sports programs. Besides, he said, kids would much rather snack on junk food than the healthful fare. If you\’re faced with a similar choice this week–whether to do what\’s good for you or else indulge your vices and seek out meaningless experiences that provide no fulfillment–please go for the former option. The astrological omens suggest that this is a turning point, for better or worse, in your relationship with your bad habits.

SAGITTARIUS

(Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

In 1993, my American friend Mark started playing music on the streets of Copenhagen. His parents regarded it as a tragedy. "This is what you do with the fine education we bought you?" they mourned. "What a waste!" grumbled his siblings and college friends. Mark was hurt, but didn\’t shrink from his mission, eventually expanding his open-air performances to Ireland and Holland. Thirteen years later, Mark has accumulated so much wealth from his gig that he has been able to buy homes in Ireland and Hawaii. Though he still busks part-time, he spends nine months of the year writing books. He\’s your patron saint in the coming weeks, Sagittarius. May he inspire you to follow your dreams no matter how much that bothers the people who think they own you.

CAPRICORN

(Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Are you a force of nature right now, or are you a freak of nature? I think the truth is that you\’re a freaky force of nature. You\’re just about as anomalous as it\’s possible for a Capricorn to get, and yet you\’ve also got the equivalent of a thunderstorm\’s energy at your command. The funny thing is, the two factors are related. Your eccentricity is feeding your power, and vice versa. My advice is to refrain from questioning and worrying about this unusual state of affairs, and instead just capitalize on the odd advantages you have at your disposal.

AQUARIUS

(Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

This is a favorable time for you to conjure up an imaginary friend who also happens to be a muse. You can pretend that he or she is perfectly real, just invisible. Or you can fantasize that he or she is a mostly buried part of you that you rarely express, or maybe your ideal of what a friend should be. I urge you to give this ally a name. Visualize his or her vivid personality and appearance in detail. See the world through his or her eyes. Have dialogues, exchange confidential information, hold hands, and soak up the balm of your tender communion.

PISCES

(Feb. 19-March 20)

Some of the most gorgeous animals on the planet are also the most toxic to eat, writes Carol Kaesuk Yoon in The New York Times. Iridescent butterflies and fluorescent frogs are among the beauties that fit this description. Many are downright poisonous, and others are just plain foul-tasting. Keep that in mind as a helpful metaphor during the coming weeks, Pisces. Attractive people and enticing invitations may not always be what they seem. Sometimes they may be exactly what they seem, however, which is why it\’s so important for you to be exceedingly discriminating. Enjoy the view for a while and get a sense of what\’s beneath the surface before you taste them.

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