FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, March 20, 2003

ARIES (March 21-April 19): When you’re at your best, Aries, you see the cracks in the façades as opportunities, you get giddy as you careen over bumps in the road, you love the magic that flows from situations others see as rough or crooked. You will soon be at your best again, encountering a surge of juicy serendipity. Be incited by Aries poet Charles Baudelaire: “That which is not slightly distorted lacks sensible appeal: from which it follows that irregularity ... the unexpected, surprise, and astonishment, are an essential part and characteristic of beauty.”

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): One of your reliable tools isn’t broken yet, but I advise you to fix it before it is. A power failure will occur soon unless you take steps to prevent a system overload. The monster in your closet is still safely asleep, which is why I urge you to call in an exorcist or exterminator now, before it wakes up. Are you catching my drift, Taurus? Because you’ve been smart and lucky enough to tune in to this horoscope, you have all the forewarning you need to prevent a crisis.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You know how a song can get stuck in your head and won’t leave you alone? You’ll be susceptible to this phenomenon in the coming week. I suggest that you begin working to ensure that you’ll be invaded by only the most inspiring songs. As soon as you’re finished reading this, make a list of your top five, then hum them for a while. How about “Clean Out My Closet,” by Eminem or “I See God in You,” by India.Arie? Or maybe “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which ends with the lines “Deep in my heart the answer was in me/ And I made up my mind to find my own destiny.”

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Just before my friend Juliana received word she’d gotten her dream job, she’d been devoutly depressed, reading tabloids and eating doughnuts in her pajamas. When my friend Jessie heard he’d been chosen as a back-up singer for the world tour of a group he idolized, he was recovering from a nasty hangover while playing video games with his 10-year-old nephew, whose family let Jessie freeload during his fifth month of unemployment. I’m not saying the lightning bolt that will illuminate your world will be as dramatic as these two examples, but a lightning bolt is a lightning bolt.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In his book Animals and Psychedelics, ethnobotanist Giorgio Samorini says that many animals deliberately alter their consciousness. Robins get drunk on holly berries and act “like winged clowns”; goats can be dependent on caffeine, and reindeer seek out hallucinogenic mushrooms. Samorini concludes that the desire to get high is a natural drive. He suggests that intoxication has served as an evolutionary force for some species, breaking down outworn habits to improve long-term survival. This is prelude to my advice: You now have a cosmic mandate to shed your shticks and expand your awareness. Since you’re not just an animal but also an ingenious human, you don’t have to resort to drugs and alcohol to do it. But you should do it.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Many otherwise intelligent people cling to a perverse model of intimacy articulated by Norman Mailer. He has described marriage as “an excretory relationship, in which you take all the crap you hide from the world and dump it on the person closest to you. But the proviso is that you have to be willing to take theirs.” If your approach to intimate communion has even a shred of this vulgar stupidity, it’s a prime time to banish it from your repertoire. You’ll attract uncanny luck and inspiration if you work in a way opposite to Mailer’s; that is to say, when you train yourself to call up all the beauty you hide from the world and offer it up to the person closest to you.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Your word of power in the coming weeks will be “stretch.” Intone it as a mantra all day and write it in red ink in a prominent place in your environment. In addition, I urge you to regularly embody these three meanings of “stretch”: 1. To make longer, wider, or bigger without breaking or tearing; 2. To straighten and extend your body to its full span to increase circulation and forestall cramps; 3. To carry out a demanding task that requires you to enlarge your capacities or go beyond what you thought was possible for you to do.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): You’ve been resourceful in your efforts to push love to a new frontier. You’ve been an artist in the way you’ve reinvented passion and a pioneer as you’ve dared to explore collaborations that require you to leave your comfort zone. Congratulations! Now, during the next three weeks, meditate often on the words of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley: “Love withers under constraint: Its very essence is liberty: it is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy, nor fear: it is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited, where its votaries live in confidence, equality, and unreserve.”

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I found a love note in the trashcan at the post office addressed to “My Succulent, Surging, Sagacious Sagittarius” from “Your Perfectly Imperfect Instigator.” “Let’s be radically curious explorers together,” it read. “Let’s bushwhack through the wilds in search of the rawest truths the laws of nature will allow us to dive into.” I was shocked to find this discarded. What Archer in his or her right mind would throw away such a provocative invitation? Please don’t make this mistake in the coming weeks, even if your potential collaborator is “perfectly imperfect.”

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I’m not writing this horoscope, Capricorn. You are. I’m channeling it from the depths of your innermost mind. Why? Your conscious ego has been so caught up in the daily whirl that it has been steadfastly ignoring an important message from your still, small voice. Here’s what it wants you to know: You desperately need to tune in to the still, small voice. The communiqué it has to convey is simple and brief, yet richer than 30 hours’ worth of advice from 30 experts. It will help you to save an enormous amount of time and to pull off a constructive cosmic joke.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): It’s one of those blessed times when you’ll heighten your attractiveness by thinking more deeply, when pursuing higher education will help you create conditions in which you can better satisfy your desires, when you can make yourself sexier by becoming smarter — and vice versa. In the spirit of this happy confluence of id and intellect, I offer you a few librarian pick-up lines from 1. “I’d luuuuuv to check you out.” 2. “I couldn’t help noticing what a great book bag you have.” 3. “Are you a librarian, because when you walked in the room I knew I was overdue.”

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Long ago, when my roommate asked her new acquaintance, the escaped convict, to stay at our house for a few weeks, I overcame my propensity to be an overly patient, absurdly accommodating doormat. “There is no way in hell that he will spend a single night here,” I said firmly, and despite her protests, I prevailed. I have an intuition that you will receive a comparable opportunity to exercise a strong and lucid new version of your willpower in the coming week.

Homework: Send ideas for April Fool’s jokes to Uplifting Pranks, Inc. in care of

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