FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: wednesday, August 22, 2002

ARIES (March 21-April 19): A new mockingbird arrived in my backyard birch tree four days ago, and has been chirping its buoyant tunes in long, relentless concerts for hours on end. I admired the creatureís inexhaustible rapture at first, but at this point the only way I can get any work done is to stuff plugs in my ears. Iím serving up this vignette, Aries, as a warning beacon. Donít let your good thing become too much of a good thing.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You have underestimated how much happiness you are capable of attracting into your life. Believe it or not, this artificially low expectation has cheated you out of your fair share of joy, fulfillment, and a sense of meaning. Your assignment for the next four weeks is to jack up your happiness levels by at least 20 percent. Work hard at this task, Taurus ó at least as hard as you do at your job. To get started, divest yourself of a mediocre thrill that distracts you from an intelligence-building excitement.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): My ambitious friend Richard played the part of a tree with a face in a local theatrical production of Wizard of Oz. In 12 shows, he stood behind a cardboard painting of a tree. ďWith all the important, fun, challenging things you have to do,Ē I asked him, ďwhy did you choose this dopey task?Ē His bemused reply: ďMy life is too crammed with meaning, Robbie. Iím a junkie for epic storylines. So for once in my life, I decided to do something that had absolutely no purpose. And it renewed me beyond my wildest imagining.Ē I pray that youíll take a page from Richardís book in the coming days, dear Gemini.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The near future has too many diverse themes for me to sum up in one simple oracle. Therefore, Iím presenting you with a bite-sized prophecy for each day of the week. Aug. 22: Blind fate gains the power to see, though itís still a little nearsighted. Aug. 23: Confronted by one of Godís trickier games, you just have to get trickier yourself. Aug. 24: Maybe you could arrange for the tidal wave to arrive in manageable installments. Aug. 25: Love makes you crazy ó just in time. Aug. 26: The hype shall set you free. August 27: Freelance, moonlight, diversify, mutate.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Religious experts estimate that 34 percent of everyone alive will go to heaven after they die. Your actions in the next month, Leo, could virtually guarantee you a place among that elect minority ó though not necessarily any time soon. Itís just that this is prime time to rack up a surplus of high-yield karmic credit. Why? Your charm and radiance are more useful to people than usual. Youíre likely to feel pride in pursuits that serve the greater good. And there is currently a sweet convergence of your selfish needs and generous urges.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Are you brave enough to invite realityís messy richness to replace your pristine but inert fantasies? Are you mature enough to renounce your naÔve hopes and fears so as to see the raw truths that are right in front of you? Are you crafty enough to shed the part of your innocence thatís based on delusion even as you strengthen the part thatís rooted in your love of life? Maybe you werenít brave or mature or crafty enough to pull off these heroic feats in the past, Virgo, but you are now.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Three times a week I take a long walk up into the hills near my home. One day last October I was surprised to find that since my previous foray, someone had dug a series of large holes along my usual route. They were precisely dug and carefully aligned. What was their purpose? I still donít know. More than ten months later, they remain unfinished and unused. I mention them now, Libra, because they remind me of a project that you began but abandoned back around October 2001. Itís time to return and complete the job. Either that, or fill in the holes.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The devil didnít make you do it. Heís not smart enough. God could have made you do it if He wanted, but that would have interfered with your free will, which is against His principles. No, Scorpio, the credit for your broken trances and shattered taboos rests with what we in the consciousness industry refer to as your ďhigher selfĒ ó your guardian angel, your still small voice, or the grown-up version of your imaginary friend from childhood. During the rest of your long life many other breakthroughs will serve you for a while and then fade. But the beauty your higher self has recently cracked open will resurrect itself over and over again until the day you die.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I tried to get the famous yet wise Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh to guest-write your horoscope. I thought he could help me with my dilemmas: How can I encourage you to rev up your ambitions full blast without turning you into a stress-addled greedhead or egomaniacal power-tripper? What advice might help you channel more of your libido into serving your highest ideals? Sadly, Thich Nhat Hanh did not respond to my plea to create a spiritually correct version of this advice. Nor did the other sage celebrities I attempted to contact, including Deepak Chopra and Matthew Fox. So youíll have to figure out how to do it yourself.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): As I make a psychic survey of the coming weeks, I get visions of you rambling in unfamiliar territory, wandering with serendipitous intent in places far from the heart of the action. Pretty radical for a Capricorn ó you usually love to be right in the middle of things. You may worry that everything in these frontiers is beyond your grasp, but youíll eventually find clues to revive a dream youíd almost given up on. And though you may hate how vulnerable and unschooled you feel, you will sooner or later stumble upon a future power spot.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): If a filmmaker asks you to do a nude erotic scene in his indie flick, agree to it only if he allows you to improvise freely. If the CIA recruits you to carry out a top-secret mission, sign on only if it involves exotic travel and a big expense account. If a friend wants you to help bend the truth for a good cause, do it only if the fabrication makes you feel profound and expansive. Do you see the subliminal theme that underlies my specific examples, Aquarius? Itís fine to slip outside your usual safety zone as long as you have enough power to make it really fun.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): The dog days are giving way to flamingo nights. The reign of the business-like vulture is ending, making it possible for the friendly dragon to share its treasure. Best of all, the bull you grabbed by the horns and the monkey on your back will soon lose interest in harassing you. I expect the three of you will then lie down with the lion and the lamb, and youíll harvest the rewards youíve earned through those beastly struggles.

Homework: What famous historical personage were you in your past life? If you donít know or werenít really, make something up. Testify at

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