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Free Will Astrology 

ARIES (March 21-April 19) I expect that you will soon stumble upon a key secret to your next masterpiece. And I'll be surprised if you don't discover a healing agent that will be effective in correcting an old mistake. In fact, I prophesy that in the coming week, you will have a sense that you're doing the smart thing at least 90 percent of the time. Sorry: I'm afraid to say that I have no sad, bad or mad news to deliver. If you're the type of person who thrives on cynicism, your immediate future may be pretty boring. If you're on the fence about the question of whether life is a gorgeous feast or a chaotic mess, your ability to deal with outbreaks of goodness will be supremely tested.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) In Salman Rushdie's story "The Prophet's Hair," a greedy man intentionally cripples his four sons when they're young, hoping to turn them into beggars who elicit profound sympathy and large cash donations. The plan is successful. His sons earn him a good income. Later, he comes into possession of a potent talisman — a strand of hair from the prophet Mohammed — and it magically heals the sons' ailments. They're no longer able to pull in big bucks, and grief descends upon the family. I think there's a variation on these themes at work in your own life. A "magic charm" is available that could reverse or neutralize an old handicap. Do you have the pluck to surrender the rewards that your impairment has brought you?

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) It should be an excellent week for potato-chip breakfasts, rapid mood shifts and short-duration flirtations. The abundance of superficial exchanges that will be available to you could actually add up into something resembling meaningful breakthroughs. You will have the chance to explore the art of the five-minute epic conversation, as well as the science of giving a single look that speaks a million words. You cannot possibly plumb the bottomless depths of casual, frivolous, lightweight diversions, but you should try anyway.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) On the one hand, you may find yourself unable to flow as freely as you'd like to in the coming week. I foresee the possibility that your streaming currents will get dammed up in places, or else shunted into narrow conduits that constrict your natural surge. On the other hand, this could compel you to make more practical use of your emotional assets. The applicable metaphor is the harnessing of a turbulent river to produce massive amounts of hydroelectric power.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) If you really knew how much you were loved, you would never cry again. A sublime relaxation would flood your nervous system, freeing you to see the beautiful secrets that your chronic fear has hidden from you. If you knew how much the world longs for your genius to bloom, the peace that filled you would ensure you could not fail. You'd face every trial with eager equanimity. You'd always know exactly what to do because your intuition would tell you in a myriad of subtle ways. And a glimpse of this glory will soon be available to you.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) First of all, my friend, you don't need any secondhand anything, let alone secondhand love. Second of all, dearest, you are hereby ordered not to hang around any third-rate situations where you feel like a fifth wheel. You understand? Third, wonderful one, keep in mind that any eight-ball you may fantasize that you're behind is just a figment of your own delusions. Fourth, lover, I assure you that your sixth sense can now lead you — if you cleanse it of its superstition — to a place that is, if you have a good imagination, a suburb of the seventh heaven.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) I got an interesting spam today. A company offered to sell me phony degrees from Harvard and Stanford; I wouldn't mind having one of those up on my wall. But in the end, I decided that I'd simply make one myself. And instead of creating a degree from Harvard, it would be from a place where I have actually matriculated, namely the Raving Maniac Academy of Crazy Wisdom. It's an excellent time for you to make yourself a fancy fake diploma from whatever your equivalent is to my academy — you know, the source that has been providing you with so much great teaching, even though it's not an official institution of higher education.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) A Slovenian adventurer named Martin Strel swam the length of the Amazon River in Brazil. It took him over nine weeks to travel more than 3,000 miles. Previously he had breast-stroked his way down the entire Yangtze River in China, a distance of almost 2,500 miles. He scoffed at the idea of conquering the Nile River in Egypt, however. "It's long, but not challenging enough," he said. "It is just a small creek." That's the spirit I hope you will summon in yourself during the coming weeks: a determination to take on only the most invigorating tests that require heroic levels of resourcefulness. Skip the lesser trials.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Ideally, you wouldn't even be reading this. You'd be white-water rafting along the Franklin River in Tasmania, or riding on "the train at the end of the world" in Tierra del Fuego, or observing golden bamboo lemurs in the rainforest of southeastern Madagascar. Ideally, you'd be far away from any newspaper that carries my column. In fact, you'd be out of touch with all media. But since you are reading this, you must not be doing the ideal thing. So please do the next best thing: Flee as far as possible from your usual haunts, your habitual influences and your customary comforts.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Make sure that no one except you will be able to tear asunder what you join together in the coming days. Tie knots that will never slip. Build bridges that can't be burned. Send e-mails that cement new alliances and plug yourself into networks that are crackling with high-energy connections. Stock up on safety pins, staples, nails, tape and glue. Be sticky! Just one caution: Do not marry your fortunes to anyone unless they are willing to be your devoted, synergistic warrior as much as you are their devoted, synergistic warrior.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) Don't whine and complain just because your guardian angel seems to be driving hard bargains lately. You're actually on better speaking terms now than you've been in some time. Before the sweeter talk can begin, though, the two of you still have to work out kinks left over from previous miscommunications. There's a method in your guardian angel's madness, a reason for the hard bargains: She or he is testing you to see if you're willing and able to stretch your imagination to accept the rowdy blessings you'll be tempted with.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) Underdogs are on an upsurge. Top dogs are on a downswing. The rebels have something resembling God on their side. The masters merely have money and propaganda. It's an excellent week to launch strikes, boycotts and protests. It's prime time to say no to smiling manipulators. The best efforts will always have at least a tinge of cheekiness. So now that you've read my spiel, please answer me this: Are you going to sit there passively and grin as some feel-good tyrant tries to break off a chunk of your soul?

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