FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, April 24, 2003

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You’re at the peak of your ability to explore the mysteries of shapeshifting. I encourage you who are of a mystical or shamanic bent to try a variety of animal identities in your meditations and lucid dreams. For an earthier approach, you could incorporate the wild intelligence of a favorite creature into your daily behavior. How about a fox? Its influence could help you cultivate sly ambition, a worthy project for you in the coming days.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In Esquire magazine a renowned astronomer spoke about the origin of the cosmos. “The big bang is so preposterous,” said Allan Sandage, “and the chain of events it set off so unlikely, that it makes most sense when thought of as a ‘miracle.’” For the sake of argument, let’s assume he’s right. If the beginning of the universe itself was a miracle, then everything in it is impregnated with the possibility of smaller but equally marvelous miracles. This is apropos because I believe you’re now primed to birth an amazing feat that your rational mind might find hard to believe.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Your task, Gemini, resembles — well, the following reference is rather graphic. Proceed only if you’re not easily offended and have a supple sense of humor. All right: The task ahead of you resembles carrying out the artificial insemination of a rhinoceros. Impossible? Well, no, it’s not. In fact, with the help of a tool invented by scientists, zookeepers do it regularly. And you have a new metaphorical tool that will make it feasible — not easy, but feasible — to do the metaphorical equivalent.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): In the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony, Oscar nominees are called on to talk about themselves endlessly, attend nonstop parties, and cultivate a tolerance for extreme levels of fun. And they’ve got to flaunt their stylish charisma with almost superhuman intensity. In the three weeks before the big night this year, René Zellweger wore 40 different dresses. Now you may normally have little in common with film stars, but that should change in the coming days. You have astrological license to talk about yourself, experience lots of fascinating fun, and array yourself in vivacious clothes.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Many scholars believe the original Garden of Eden was where Iraq is today. Though remnants of that ancient paradise survived, many were obliterated recently. One of my spies near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers keeps me posted on the fate of the most famous remnant: the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Until a few weeks ago, it was a gnarled stump; today a crater is all that remains. Let this be an evocative symbol as you tackle your big assignment for the rest of 2003, Leo: Completely demolish your old ideas about paradise so that you can conjure a fresh new vision of it.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): One of my early astrology teachers, Isabel Hickey, used to say, “Before you can give yourself away, you have to have a self to give.” This should be your seed meditation for the foreseeable future, Virgo. I am not implying that you don’t have a self. But you do have a lot of work to do to define and strengthen your sense of who you are. Visualize a flame in your heart growing steadily bigger and brighter and hotter.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Do you believe there is such a thing as the human soul? If not, stop reading right now; I’ll talk with you again next week. But if you do believe, how would you define it? More importantly, what does your own soul feel like? In the coming week, make frequent attempts to tune in to that elusive essence. Use all your ingenuity and persistence as you try to create a stronger bridge between your everyday awareness and your heart source, your seed code, your eternal song.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In my opinion, it’s a perfect time to introduce more experimentation into your most promising relationship. Here are a few ideas you and your companion might want to try together. 1. Go outside just after midnight, crow loudly like roosters, then run back inside. 2. Describe a detailed vision of your companion’s best possible future. Ask for the same in return. 3. Borrow from the religions with rituals of eating their gods. Buy a pastry that makes your mouths water, perform a ceremony inviting a divine spirit to enter into it, then slowly devour it while gazing in each other’s eyes.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): A month ago my Sagittarian friend adorned her car with her first-ever bumper sticker, “Give Yourself to Love.” She was nervous. Hadn’t she raised the pressure on herself to live up to her noble ideals? A week later, a guy on a cell phone in an SUV cut her off in traffic, and she gave him a middle-finger salute. Next day she added a new sticker to the left of the first: “Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up, Hold On.” About the contradiction, she confessed, “I’ve just accepted that I’ve got a split personality.” Today she pasted the word “and” in the empty space to create a new thought: “Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up, Hold On, and Give Yourself to Love.” She called to tell me the good news: “I’m whole again!”

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Are other people luckier than you? If so, you can do something about it, according to psychologist Richard Wiseman. His book, The Luck Factor, suggests you can learn to be lucky. It’s not a mystical force you’re born with, but a habit you can develop. How? For starters, be open to new experiences, trust your gut wisdom, expect good fortune, see the bright side of challenging events, and maximize serendipitous opportunities. I mention this because you’re now in a phase when you can make tremendous progress enhancing your capacity to attract luck.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): This may sound strange and improbable, but my inside sources swear it’s true: If you’d like to stay out of hot water, metaphorically speaking, you should literally immerse yourself in hot water more than usual in the coming week. In other words, you can stir up a protective, benevolent magic by taking long baths, soaking in hot tubs, and playing in warm swimming pools. If you can get away to a hot spring for a day or two, you’ll virtually ensure that trouble won’t be able to find you.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): On certain occasions, I encourage you to sacrifice your own needs for the sake of others or try to heal their wounds before you attend to your own. This is not one of those times. It wouldn’t fit the cosmic mojo. What, then, would be the most righteous course of action? Here’s what I think: Rouse your most imaginative brilliance as you dream up ways to be really good to yourself. Shower yourself with gifts, treats, and blessings. Take all that tender loving care you’re so skilled at giving to others and bestow it on yourself.

Homework: Tell how America’s invasion of Iraq made you a better person. Write

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