Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): When I studied method acting with David Mamet, he taught us to develop such a vivid imagination that we could taste the pretend coffee that we drank out of an imaginary cup. We'd feel the heft of the cup in our hand and the steamy heat rising. We'd hallucinate the bitterly flavorful smell, and the muscles of our face would move the way they might if we were sipping the real thing. Pop star Lady Gaga didn't work with Mamet while she was maturing as an actress, but she got similar teachings. Recently, she told New York magazine that she can "feel the rain, when it's not raining." And more than that: "I can actually mentally give myself an orgasm." If you think that you will ever want to have that strong an imagination, now is a good time to start working toward that goal.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): When they say "Go with the flow," what "flow" are they talking about? Do they mean the flow of your early childhood conditioning? The flow of your friends' opinions? The latest cultural trends? Your immediate instinctual needs? When they say "Go with the flow," are they urging you to keep doing what's easiest to do and what will win you the most ego points, even if it keeps you from being true to your soul's code? I'm here to ask you to consider the possibility that there are many flows to go with, but only one of them is correct for you right now. And in my opinion, it is flowing in an underground cavern, far from the madding crowd.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): "There would not be such a thing as counterfeit gold if there were no real gold somewhere," says a Sufi proverb. Why am I bringing this to your attention at this particular moment in your life story? Here's the bad news: You're in possession of some counterfeit gold that you think is authentic. Here's the good news: Within a short time after waking up to the truth about the fake stuff, you will locate the real thing.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Here's a thought from the Cancerian philosopher Gaston Bachelard: "He who listens to the singing of the stream cannot be expected to understand the one who hears the singing of the flame: They do not speak the same language." While I mostly agree with that poetic formulation, I think you're about to be a temporary exception to the rule. Normally you are acutely attuned to the singing of the stream; your skill at reading its nuances are supreme among the zodiac. But I expect that in the coming days, you will not only have the power to appreciate the song of the fire; you'll even be able to empathize with and understand people who are entranced by the song of the fire.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Paul, a fortune-telling octopus in Oberhausen, Germany, had an amazing run of success predicting the results of World Cup competitions a while back. His technique? His handlers gave him a succession of choices between two tasty morsels, each representing one of the teams in a given match. The treat he picked to eat was the team whose victory he prophesied. I wish I could access his expertise to help me sort out your upcoming decisions. It's really important that you not over-think the possibilities, but rather rely on simple gut reactions. Why don't you pretend you're an octopus, and imagine that each choice you have to make is symbolized by some food item. Ask yourself, "Which is yummiest?"

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Lewis Carroll's sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was Through the Looking Glass. As he wrote it, he invited his illustrator John Tenniel to offer editorial advice. In response, Tenniel tactfully suggested that Lewis cut out a certain chapter. Lewis agreed, and so the story, as we read it today, doesn't include Alice's meeting with a grumbling wasp who wore a bright yellow wig that sat disheveled on its head like a clump of seaweed. Think of me as your version of Tenniel, Virgo. As you finish up your labor of love, consider following my recommendation to omit the part that resembles a wasp in a wig.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): If you and I were sitting face to face and I asked you, "What are the most important lessons you've learned these last 11 months?" what would you tell me? I think you need this type of experience: an intense and leisurely conversation with a good listener you trust — someone who will encourage you to articulate the major developments in your life since your last birthday. Here are some other queries I'd pose: 1) How have you changed? 2) What long-term process needs to come to a climax? 3) What "school" are you ready to graduate from? (And by "school" I mean any situation that has been a hotbed of learning for you.)

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The film Avatar hammers out such vehement anti-military, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist themes that it could have been endorsed by the leftist rock band Rage Against the Machine. And yet it's the highest-grossing film in the history of the world. One critic marveled at its popularity in even the most conservative areas of America, noting that it got "a theater full of people in Kentucky to stand and applaud the defeat of their country in war." Your assignment in the coming week is to do what Avatar has done: Try to make sure that your opponents and skeptics are entertained by your message — maybe even excited and intrigued.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I recommend that you enjoy an abundance of recreational time in the coming days, Sagittarius. But I hope that you will favor a rigorous physical challenge over lying lazily on the beach. I hope that you will read great literature instead of mass-market paperbacks, and that you'll attend a brain-bending workshop rather than being a spectator at a sports event. Catch my drift, Sagittarius? Say yes to embarking on a vision quest that scares the fear out of you and pumps up your spiritual ambition; say no to wasting away in a puddle of sluggish, circuitous daydreaming.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Sixty-nine percent of conservatives think that hell is a real place, and over half of all liberals do. Shocking! Ridiculous! I hope that you, Capricorn, give zero credence to the idea that there is a realm of eternal damnation. In my astrological opinion, believing in hell would grossly interfere with your ability to know the truth about your life right now. So would an irrational fear of failure, an obsession with enemies, or a tendency to define yourself in opposition to bad stuff. Here's the alternative: To thrive, all you have to do is accentuate what you love, identify what you want, and focus on rewards.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): This is an excellent time for you to get more conscious and proactive about what images you bring into your life and surround yourself with. It's always important to monitor the pictures flowing into your imagination, of course, but it's especially crucial right now. Your mental and physical health are unusually dependent on it. So please do yourself a big favor and gaze upon as much uplifting beauty as you can. Favor gardens over garbage dumps, soaring vistas over strip malls, interesting faces over scowling mugs.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Every year smokers toss away more than four trillion cigarette butts, fouling the environment terribly. But recently a few Chinese scientists embarked on the seemingly impossible project of finding value in this noxious waste. Collecting up big piles of discarded filters, they developed a process to extract chemicals that are effective at preventing corrosion when applied to steel pipes. Your assignment, Pisces, is to accomplish a comparable miracle: Turn some dreck or dross into a useful thing; discover a blessing in the trash; build a new dream using the ruins of an old pleasure.

Homework: Let's meet in dreams sometime soon. Describe to me the adventures you'd like us to have together.

[email protected].

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