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COLUMN

Free Will Astrology

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VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) "The soul should always stand ajar," said 19-century poet Emily Dickinson in one of her poems, "That if the heaven inquire, He will not be obliged to wait, Or shy of troubling her." Modern translation: You should keep your deep psyche in a constant state of readiness for the possible influx of divine inspiration or unexpected blessings. That way, you're likely to recognize the call when it comes and respond with the alacrity necessary to get the full benefit of its offerings. This is always a sound principle to live by. But it will be an especially valuable strategy in the coming weeks. Right now, imagine what it feels like when your soul is properly ajar.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) Some people wonder if I'm more like a cheerleader than an objective reporter. They think that maybe I minimize the pain and exaggerate the gain that lie ahead. I understand why they might pose that question. Because all of us are constantly besieged with a disproportionate glut of discouraging news, I see it as my duty to provide a counterbalance. My optimism is medicine to protect you from the distortions that the conventional wisdom propagates. Having said that, I'd like you to know that I'm not counterbalancing at all when I give you this news: You're close to grabbing a strategic advantage over a frustration that has hindered you for a long time.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) "Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment," said Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck. "This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath." While I appreciate Beck's advice, I'm perplexed why she put such a heavy emphasis on lessons that arise from difficult events. In the weeks ahead, you'll be proof that this is shortsighted. Your teachers are likely to be expansive, benevolent and generous.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) A lathe is a machine that grips a chunk of metal or wood or clay and rotates it so that someone wielding a tool can form the chunk into a desired shape. From a metaphorical point of view, I visualize you as being held by a cosmic lathe right now. God or fate or whatever you'd prefer to call it is chiseling away the non-essential stuff so as to sculpt a more beautiful and useful version of you. Although the process may be somewhat painful, I think you'll be happy with the result.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) I'm hoping you will take maximum advantage of the big opportunity that's ahead for you: an enhancement of your senses. That's right. For the foreseeable future, you not only have the potential to experience extra vivid and memorable perceptions. You could also wangle an upgrade in the acuity and profundity of your senses, so that your sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch will forevermore gather in richer data. For best results, set aside what you believe about the world, and just drink in the pure impressions. In other words, focus less on the thoughts rumbling around inside your mind and simply notice what's going on around you. For extra credit: Cultivate an empathetic curiosity with everything you'd like to perceive better.

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