FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, July 30, 2003

ARIES (March 21-April 19): This horoscope is a collaboration between me and Rumi, a Sufi poet who died 730 years ago. “All disquiet springs from a search for quiet,” Rumi would like you to know. “And so the best way to cultivate inner peace,” I add, “is to learn to love the way everything keeps changing.” Rumi continues: “All illnesses spring from scavenging for delicacies.” I conclude: “So pluck the simple, inexpensive riches that are right in front of you.”

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): A long-distance runner I know prepares for competitions in a way that seems counterintuitive. For his next race of 38 miles, he has been running five miles a day four times a week. He will never actually practice a 38-mile jaunt in one stretch. This approach has never failed him. Taurus, you will soon be called on to pull off a marathon version of a task you’ve been doing on a smaller scale. By my reckoning, you’ll have all the stamina and savvy you need to succeed.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Decide what mental pictures you’re sick and tired of looking at, then banish them from the sacred temple of your imagination. Next, browse the fertile depths of your subconscious mind, searching for exciting new mental pictures to install in your awareness. For instance, you might want to exorcise a certain fearful scenario that pops up whenever you’re under stress, and replace it with a bright, shiny vision of you at the top of your game.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Many fantastic beasts known to Harry Potter and his fellow wizards are invisible to ordinary people: the yeti, also known as bigfoot; the clabbert, a tree-dwelling animal that’s a cross between a monkey and a frog; and the phoenix, a bird that periodically bursts into flames, dies, then resurrects itself from its ashes. But my favorite is the billywig, a mosquito-like insect whose sting causes its victims to become giddy and levitate. I predict you will have an experience that resembles a billywig bite in the coming week. An annoying prick will lead to a pleasant floating sensation.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The force of gravity can’t be seen, heard, or touched, and almost no one can explain it. There wasn’t even a word for it until the 17th century, when Isaac Newton identified it and gave it a name, borrowing the Latin term gravitas, meaning “heaviness” or “seriousness.” I predict that you’ll enjoy a similar breakthrough in the next month, Leo. You will finally recognize an essential energy or power or beauty that has forever been a secret to you, even though it has always been all around you.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Largely because of humans, animal and plant species are dying off at a record rate — the greatest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If the trend continues, a quarter of the mammals will be gone in 30 years, and half of all species will be exterminated by 2100. Most people aren’t consciously aware of this, yet we all feel it. As a result, we carry a huge load of unacknowledged grief. If you wonder why you sometimes feel anxious even though your life is going well, this secret tragedy may be the cause. Tune in to the sadness and recognize that it’s not caused by your personal failure.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Most American states have power symbols. Pennsylvania, for instance, has made the chocolate chip cookie its Official State Cookie. The bola tie is the State Neckwear of Arizona; the morel is the State Mushroom of Minnesota; the Tule duck decoy is the Artifact of Nevada. According to my analysis, you’re in a phase when you should make similar designations for your own personal empire. What is your official cookie, neckwear, mushroom, or artifact? Don’t stop there. Add at least 20 more categories.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In a study of modern democracy, one political scientist has concluded that lying is necessary and justifiable. “Politics should be regarded as less like an exercise in producing truthful statements and more like a poker game,” said Glen Newey. “And there is an expectation by poker players that you try to deceive them as part of the game.” I find this distasteful. My policy is never to be dishonest if I can help it. But then I have that luxury. As a self-employed poet, I don’t have to hash out compromises or hang out in moral gray areas. But your path may be different. In August, you might have to lie a little as you fight for a noble cause.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I’ve tried a wide variety of meditative practices from many traditions. I’ve calmed myself through rhythmic breathing; watched bemusedly as the nonstop cavalcade of images paraded across my mind; visualized sacred mandalas and cultivated unconditional love. And that’s just a few. But I’ve never heard of a meditation that asks me to go into a public place, take my attention completely off myself, and observe people with precise and compassionate objectivity. Luckily, you’re in a perfect phase to pioneer this radical new mode. It’ll energize you enormously.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): My friend Jane Heaven is an uncanny catalyst. Good things happen for me when she’s around; interesting connections and fun challenges pop up. Why? It has to do with her curiosity and willingness to try new things. One night on her radio show, she goaded me and five other guests not to speak but rather to sing everything we wanted to communicate. For the next two hours we improvised melodies and rhythms as we carried on our discourse. I wrote two new songs the next day. Your own personal equivalent of Jane Heaven is either already in your life and just waiting for you to ask for more direct help, or hovering close by, ready to be summoned.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): On Star Trek, a female starship captain 370 years in the future was considering a love affair with a 19th-century Irish bartender — or rather a realistic hologram. Though she felt an attraction, she wished several things about the man were different. Since she had the power to reprogram him, she did, creating an even more desirable character. Later she felt remorse and sought advice from the ship’s non-human doctor. “I’ve noticed you humans often try to change those you fall in love with,” the doc noted. “Why is that?” You may feel like redesigning people you love in the coming weeks, but I suggest you change yourself instead.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Songbirds are disappearing all over the world, in part due to deforestation. If current trends continue, the tunes of yellow-throated warblers and red-eyed vireos will be gone forever. Meanwhile, crows, starlings, and blue jays are enjoying a population explosion. You’ll be hearing a lot more of their shrieks in the coming years. Being aware of this could help you avoid an analogous development in your personal life. In August, encourage your inner bird — the part of you that loves to take flight — to be melodious rather than shrill.

Homework: Compose an exciting prayer in which you ask for something you’re not “supposed” to. Tell us at

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