Free Will Astrology (4/20/16) 

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ARIES (March 21-April 19) "The writer should never be ashamed of staring," said Aries writer Flannery O'Connor. "There is nothing that does not require his attention." This is true for all of you Aries folks, not just the writers among you. The coming weeks will be an especially important time for you to cultivate a piercing gaze that sees deeply and shrewdly. You will thrive to the degree that you notice details you might normally miss or regard as unimportant. What you believe and what you think won't be as important as what you perceive. Trust your eyes.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) The ancient Greek geographer Pausanias told a story about how the famous poet Pindar got his start. One summer day, young Pindar decided to walk from his home in Thebes to a city 20 miles away. During his trek, he got tired and lay down to take a nap by the side of the road. As he slept, bees swarmed around him and coated his lips with wax. He didn't wake up until one of the bees stung him. For anyone else, this might have been a bother. But Pindar took it as an omen that he should become a lyric poet, a composer of honeyed verses. And that's exactly what he did in the ensuing years. I foresee you having an experience comparable to Pindar's sometime soon. How you interpret it will be crucial.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) "I measure the strength of a spirit by how much truth it can take," said philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Measured by that standard, your strength of spirit has been growing – and may be poised to reach an all-time high. In my estimation, you now have an unusually expansive capacity to hold surprising, effervescent, catalytic truths. Do you dare invite all these insights and revelations to come pouring toward you? I hope so. I'll be cheering you on, praying for you to be brave enough to ask for as much as you can possibly accommodate.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) Göbekli Tepe was a monumental religious sanctuary built 11,600 years ago in the place we now call Turkey. Modern archaeologists are confounded by the skill and artistry with which its massive stone pillars were arranged and carved. According to conventional wisdom, humans of that era were primitive nomads who hunted animals and foraged for plants. So it's hard to understand how they could have constructed such an impressive structure 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid of Giza. Writing in National Geographic, science journalist Charles C. Mann said, "Discovering that hunter-gatherers had constructed Göbekli Tepe was like finding that someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife." In that spirit, I make the following prediction: In the coming months, you can accomplish a marvel that may have seemed beyond your capacity.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) In myths and folklore, the ember is a symbol of coiled-up power. The fire within it is controlled. It provides warmth and glow even as its raw force is contained. There are no unruly flames. How much energy is stored within? It's a reservoir of untapped light, a promise of verve and radiance. Now please ruminate further about the ember. According to my reading of the astrological omens, it's your core motif right now.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) Uh-oh. Or maybe I should instead say, "Hooray!" You are slipping into the Raw Hearty Vivid Untamed Phase of your astrological cycle. The universe is nudging you in the direction of high adventure, sweet intensity and rigorous stimulation. If you choose to resist the nudges, odds are that you'll have more of an "uh-oh" experience. If you decide to play along, "hooray!" is the likely outcome. To help you get in the proper mood, make the following declaration: "I like to think that my bones are made from oak, my blood from a waterfall and my heart from wild daisies." That's a quote from the poet McKenzie Stauffer.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) In many cultures, the butterfly is a symbol of transformation and rebirth. In its original state as a caterpillar, it is homely and slow-moving. After its resurrection time in the chrysalis, it becomes a lithe and lovely creature capable of flight. The mythic meaning of the moth is quite different, however. Enchanted by the flame, it's driven so strongly toward the light that it risks burning its wings. So it's a symbol of intense longing that may go too far. In the coming weeks, your life could turn either way. You may even vacillate between being moth-like and butterfly-like. For best results, set an intention. What exactly do you want?

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) "I gladly abandon dreary tasks, rational scruples, reactive undertakings imposed by the world," wrote Scorpio philosopher Roland Barthes. Why did he do this? For the sake of love, he said – even though he knew it might cause him to act like a lunatic as it freed up tremendous energy. Would you consider pursuing a course like that in the coming weeks? In my astrological opinion, you have earned some time off from the grind. You need a break from the numbing procession of the usual daily rhythms. Is there any captivating person, animal, adventure or idea that might so thoroughly incite your imagination that you'd be open to acting like a lunatic lover with boundless vigor?

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) "Difficulties illuminate existence," says novelist Tom Robbins, "but they must be fresh and of high quality." Your assignment is to go out in search of the freshest and highest-quality difficulties you can track down. You're slipping into a magical phase of your astrological cycle when you will have exceptional skill at rounding up useful dilemmas and exciting riddles. Please take full advantage! Welcome this rich opportunity to outgrow and escape boring old problems.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) "When I grow up, I want to be a little boy," wrote novelist Joseph Heller in his book Something Happened. You have cosmic permission to make a comparable declaration in the coming days. In fact, you have a poetic license and a spiritual mandate to utter battle cries like that as often as the mood strikes. Feel free to embellish and improvise, as well: "When I grow up, I want to be a riot grrrl with a big brash attitude," for example, or "When I grow up, I want to be a beautiful playful monster with lots of toys and fascinating friends who constantly amaze me."

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) In one of his diaries, author Franz Kafka made this declaration: "Life's splendor forever lies in wait around each one of us in all of its fullness – but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come." I'm bringing this promise to your attention because you have more power than usual to call forth a command performance of life's hidden splendor. You can coax it to the surface and bid it to spill over into your daily rhythm. For best results, be magnificent as you invoke the magnificence.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) I've got a controversial message for you. If you're addicted to your problems or if you're convinced that cynicism is a supreme mark of intelligence, what I'll say may be offensive. Nevertheless, it's my duty as your oracle to inform you of the cosmic tendencies, and so I will proceed. For the sake of your mental health and the future of your relationship with love, consider the possibility that the following counsel from French author André Gide is just what you need to hear right now: "Know that joy is rarer, more difficult and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation."

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