FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, July 16, 2003

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I hope you decided not to participate in that weird contest to see who could bang their head against the wall the most times before passing out. I trust you also turned down any invitations to show off your amazing wounds or prove how attractive your problems are. Continue to show a similar forbearance in the coming week, Aries. The worst is over. The pressure to express yourself perversely will soon diminish, as the very hassles that have been frustrating you will morph into elegant opportunities.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In Karvina, a town in the Czech Republic, it is illegal to grow weeds. Offenders must pay a hefty fine if the Weeds Commission finds, say, a thistle amidst the potato plants. I’m tempted to enforce an equally stringent requirement on you Tauruses, at least for the next two weeks. For your own long-term good, as well as everyone else’s, you cannot afford to be lax toward interlopers, whether they’re actual or metaphorical weeds. Maintain the highest standards and commit yourself with passionate integrity to incorruptible purity.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You should be seriously considered for employee of the month for brightening up the workplace with imaginative flair. If your associates have not yet realized that your already considerable value has risen even further, show them this horoscope. In another matter, you should also be named shopper of the month. On the one hand, you’ve been healing an obsessive glitch in your consumer habits, while on the other hand you’ve been delightfully intuitive about which purchases will improve your life in the most lasting ways.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): In a scene on Six Feet Under, the character George talks about a house he’d owned in New England. Built over a stream, it had once been a mill. After he’d lived there awhile, George decided to put a new floor in the kitchen. He ripped out the old surface, then tore up the first wooden plank of the foundation. There, just two feet below him, was the stream — alive, sparkling, thrilling. He knew it was there, but at that moment he actually saw it flowing beneath his house. I predict a similar breakthrough in the coming week, Cancer. You will commune with a source of magic that you have had only indirect or imaginative contact with in the past.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Many people, in talking about childhood, emphasize their alienating, traumatic experiences. Few report vivid memories of good times. This has always felt dishonest to me; I attribute it to the cynical tenor of our age rather than the objective truth. I don’t mean to downplay the way our early encounters with pain demoralize our spirits. But you, Leo, are in a phase when it’s crucial to acknowledge and honor the gifts of your early years: all the joyful encounters, wise teachings, and blessings that helped you bloom.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I predict you will be in a hearty, even triumphant mood in the coming week. Unfinished business will either complete itself or reveal to you how to wrap it up simply and quickly. Even if there’s a moment of dark doubt, it’s essential that you stay committed to your mood of hearty triumph. Carry around this poem from Tony Hoagland: “No matter how you feel, you have to act like you are very popular with yourself; very relaxed and purposeful, very unconfused and not like you are walking through the sunshine singing in chains.”

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Black South Africans fought apartheid for more than 40 years. One of their most potent weapons was toyi-toyi, a militantly exuberant form of singing and dancing. It mobilized the energy of crowds at the demonstrations that ultimately broke the will of the white minority rulers. Imagine the confusion in their authoritarian minds when confronted by thousands of high-spirited people singing and dancing. I wish you were uninhibited enough to lead such a celebratory form of uprising. There’s a status quo you’re part of that desperately needs a friendly shock of that caliber. Can you think of something equally fun, rebellious, and effective?

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): If you’re a songwriter, it’s a good time to make yourself a Jennifer Lopez sock puppet and ask it to help you create a tune that will sell a million copies. If you’re a painter, it’s a perfect moment to channel the spirit of Pablo Picasso as you dash off a few dozen masterworks. If you’re a writer, you should pretend you’re the reincarnation of F. Scott Fitzgerald and whip out a future bestseller. In short, imitate people who have been successful in the way you want to be. If necessary, get a new hero who inspires you to even greater heights than your old familiar icons.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind,” said visionary poet William Blake. We should all heed that counsel; in various degrees, we all suffer from the mental illness of dogmatism. Luckily for you, it’s a perfect moment to flush out the standing water in your own psyche. You will attract unexpected help whenever you seek information that might shake up your staunch theories and beliefs about the way the world works.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): “You do not truly know someone until you fight them.” That’s one of my favorite lines in The Matrix Reloaded. The oracle’s bodyguard, Seraph, says this to Neo after starting a brouhaha with him. It seems Seraph doesn’t necessarily want to kick Neo’s ass, but rather find out more about him to determine if he can be trusted to consult with the oracle. Take this wisdom to heart, Capricorn. I suspect you’ll have some interesting conflicts in the coming weeks. Their purpose is to bring you closer to the people you’ll struggle with, not to drive you apart.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Everyone has an allergy, either physical or psychic. Mine is to cats. Sophie’s is to peanuts. Jason’s is to his family of origin. (He starts sneezing when he sees a photo of his brothers and sisters.) Justine swears she’s allergic to environments that are too clean and orderly. Your allergy might be to something concrete like tree pollen or dairy products, or it might be more mysterious, like Jason’s or Justine’s. Whatever it is, you should redefine your relationship with it in the next two weeks. Believe it or not, you can reduce its power to make you sick.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): To prepare for your week, listen to this tale of role reversal. It stars a beautiful flower as the villain and a grubby little insect as the hero. All over Africa, the water hyacinth has been choking rivers and lakes with its rapacious growth. A non-native species, the hyacinth has had no impediments to its spread until recently. Then a scientist found weevils that eat nothing but hyacinths and sicced them on the out-of-control flower. His strategy is already working. The moral of the story, Pisces, as far as you’re concerned: If you’re threatened with way too much of a good thing, enlist an unlikely ally to assist you.

Homework: Make a prediction about the dicey victory you will pull off between July 21 and 23. Testify at

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