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COLUMN

Free Will Astrology

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) Writing in The New Yorker, Joanna Ravenna paraphrased German philosopher Nietzsche: “The best way to enrage people is to force them to change their mind about you.” I'd like to see you mutate this theory in the coming weeks. If possible, see if you can amuse and entertain people, not enrage them, by compelling them to change their minds about you. I realize that's a tricky proposition, but given the current astrological omens, I have faith that you can pull it off.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) In 1892, when Wrigley was just starting out as a company, its main product was baking powder. Free chewing gum was included in each package as a promotional gimmick. But soon the freebie became so popular that Wrigley rearranged its entire business. Now it's a multi-billion-dollar company that sells gum in 140 different countries – and no baking powder. Maybe there's something like that on the verge of happening in your own life: What seemed like the main event could turn out to be secondary, or what seemed incidental might become a centerpiece. Is there something you are overvaluing at the cost of something you are undervaluing?

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) People in intimate relationships are hypersensitive to negative comments from their partners. Psychologists say it takes five compliments to outweigh the effects of a single dash of derogatory criticism. I'm sure the ratio is similar even for relationships that aren't as close as lovers and spouses. With this in mind, I urge you to be extra careful not to dispense barbs. They would be especially damaging during this phase of your astrological cycle – both to you and to those at whom you direct them. Instead, Scorpio, why not dole out an abundance of compliments? They will build up a reservoir of goodwill you'll be able to draw on for a long time.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22- Dec. 21) Researchers report that the typical man falls in love 5.4 times over the course of his life, while the average woman basks in the glow of this great mystery on 4.6 occasions. I suspect you may be close to having a .4 or .6 type of experience: sort of like infatuation, but without the crazed mania. That could actually be a good thing. The challenging spiritual project that relationship offers may be most viable when the two people involved are not electrifyingly interwoven with every last one of their karmic threads. Maybe we have more slack in our quest for intimacy if we love but are not obsessed.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) “I couldn't wait for success,” said rich and famous comedian Jonathan Winters, “so I went ahead without it.” I love that approach, and I suggest you try it out. Is there any area of your life that is held captive by an image of perfection? Consider the possibility that shiny concepts of victory and progress might be distracting you from doing the work that will bring you meaning and fulfillment. If you're too busy dreaming of someday attaining the ideal mate, weight, job, pleasure and community, you may miss out on the imperfect but amazing opportunities that are available right now.

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