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COLUMN

Free Will Astrology

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) My first poetry teacher suggested that it was my job as a poet to learn the names of things in the natural world. She said I should be able to identify at least 25 species of trees, 25 flowers, 25 herbs, 25 birds and eight clouds. I have unfortunately fallen short in living up to that very modest goal, and I've always felt guilty about it. But it's never too late to begin, right? In the coming weeks, I vow to correct for my dereliction of duty. I urge you to follow my lead. Is there any soul work that you have been neglecting? Is there any part of your life's mission that you have skipped over? Now would be an excellent time to catch up.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) Here's my nomination for one of the Ten Biggest Problems in the World: our refusal to control the pictures and thoughts that pop into our minds. For example, I can personally testify that when a fearful image worms its way into the space behind my eyes, I sometimes let it stimulate a surge of negative emotions rather than just banish it or question whether it's true. I'm calling this to your attention because in the weeks ahead you'll have more power than usual to modulate your stream of consciousness. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says, "Don't believe everything you think"? Make that your mantra.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) In the hands of a skilled practitioner, astrology can help you determine the most favorable days to start a new project or heat up your romantic possibilities or get a tattoo of a ninja mermaid. Success is, of course, still quite feasible at other times, but you might find most grace and ease if you align yourself with the cosmic flow. Let's consider, for example, the issue of you taking a vacation. According to my understanding, if you do it between now and July 23, the experiences you have will free your ass, and – hallelujah! – your mind will then gratefully follow. If you schedule your getaway for another time, you could still free your ass, but may have to toil more intensely to get your mind to join the fun.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) What is your most hateable and loveable obsession? The compulsion that sometimes sabotages you and sometimes inspires you? The longing that can either fool you or make you smarter? Whatever it is, I suspect it's beginning a transformation. Is there anything you can do to ensure that the changes it undergoes will lead you away from the hateable consequences and closer to the loveable stuff? I think there's a lot you can do. For starters: Do a ritual – yes, an actual ceremony – in which you affirm your intention that your obsession will forever after serve your highest good and brightest integrity.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) As someone who thrives on simple organic food and doesn't enjoy shopping, I would not normally have lunch at a hot dog stand in a suburban mall. But that's what I did today. Nor do I customarily read books by writers whose philosophy repels me, and yet recently I have found myself skimming through Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness. I've been enjoying these acts of rebellion. They're not directed at the targets that I usually revolt against, but rather at my own habits and comforts. I suggest you enjoy similar insurrections in the coming week. Rise up and overthrow your attachment to boring familiarity.

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