FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, July 4, 2002

ARIES (March 21-April 19): This is prime time, astrologically speaking, to take an inventory of how available and inviting you make yourself, Aries. Do you face sideways when you greet people, and offer monotone hellos with neutral body language? Or is your entire presence a whoosh of welcome? Are there thorn bushes or piles of junk next to the main door of your home? Or have you designed the feng shui of the place so that everyone who visits feels relaxed and accepted? Think about these matters, please. Maybe you’ll get an inspiration about how it would serve you to expand your hospitality.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Close your eyes and picture yourself at the zoo. Imagine that you go to the habitat where the lions are usually kept, but they’re not there. In their place are three cows wearing orange prison jump suits. A ball and chain is handcuffed to each of their hind legs. I’d like to propose, Taurus, that this scene bears a resemblance to your current state. It seems that the overly tame and compliant aspects of yourself are on the verge of becoming even more hemmed-in and docile. I exhort you to liberate them.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Famed for her high IQ, Marilyn vos Savant writes a weekly column for Parade magazine. Recently she asserted that common sense is not just an instinctive skill, but can be learned. Her first tip on how to develop it: “Read the front page of your local paper every day.” Incredulous hilarity surged through me in response to that. How can anyone, let alone an alleged smarty, preach the practical value of drinking in the misery, loss, corruption, crime, and death that fill the front pages of daily newspapers? I know you can come up with far more constructive ideas, Gemini. It’s prime time for you to graduate to a new level of common sense.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The ancient Greek mystical mathematician Pythagoras spoke of “the music of the spheres.” Not regarding it as a mere metaphor, he described it as a divine symphony played by the planets as they spun along in their orbits. You will have a far greater capacity than usual to resonate with this music during the coming weeks, Cancerian. Even if you can’t physically hear it, you will be highly attuned to its influence. Therefore, it’s a fine time to sing your ultimate prayers, roar your deepest longings, whisper your most serpentine secrets, and yodel your goofiest love cries.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): I’m upset with you, Leo. You’re being unkind to the needy, unripe parts of yourself and directing way too much disgust at your so-called imperfections. Constructive self-criticism is fine, but not if it devolves into abusive self-hatred. As soon as you rehabilitate your spiritually incorrect habits, the universe will shower you with rewards — starting with bigger, better, more interesting problem that’ll tease your brain in a smarter way than the last batch.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Until a few weeks ago, Virgo, I had reluctantly suspected that you might never defeat your inner saboteur. But then I had a series of prophetic visions in which I saw you summoning hidden reserves of strength and ingenuity. As a result, I’ve changed my opinion. I now believe you can vanquish several of your most debilitating apprehensions: terror of being thought a fraud, for instance; worry that you’ll never be loved in the exact way you want to be; doubt about being able to handle the responsibilities and pleasures of success; and fear that you’ll never find the answer to your life’s central question.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You may find it hard to believe that imprecise language could keep you from getting your heart’s desire. Nevertheless, it’s my duty to inform you that your biggest, most deserving wish will never be granted as long as you keep wording it the way you do. Try this instead: On a piece of paper, write “I will do everything in my power to attract all the help I need as I accomplish the following goal.” Then compose a crisp description of the satisfying, growth-inducing experience you want most in life. Keep copies of this magic formula under your pillow for the next 22 days.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Some people yak on cell phones or munch on burritos while they drive. I, on the other hand, often meditate on my weekly horoscopes. Recently as I motored, I wondered how to convey the rebellious and expansive spirit of this time for Scorpios. I thought, “What metaphor might serve to portray the value of being playful yet precise while thinking outside the box? What image will inspire them to be unpredictable for the liberating fun of it, not as a means of gaining power over others?” A perfect omen arrived at a busy intersection: Hanging high on a traffic signal wire was a pair of sneakers, spray-painted gold and tied together.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If you’re planning on sidling up to a taboo, slinking into a forbidden zone, harboring a righteous dissident, or cooking up a benevolent conspiracy (and I hope you’ll do at least one of those things), don’t send out press releases. Be as discreet as a politician running for re-election; as cagey as a secret Santa Claus. Don’t allow strategic stealth to turn you into a manipulative jerk: Make your covert operation a work of art, not a weapon. And if you find the perpetrators of ass-backwards justice watching you, put the hint of a smile on your otherwise poker face.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Have you ever seen the game called “Playing the Dozens”? Participants hurl witty insults at each other. “You’re so dumb, if you spoke your mind you’d be speechless,” is a relatively benign example. A more typical slam is “Your mother is so old, she was a waitress at the Last Supper” or “You’re so ugly, you couldn’t get laid if you were a brick.” This week, Capricorn, I’d like you to rebel against any impulse resembling that game. Instead, I hope you’ll try “Paying the Tributes:” Ransack your imagination for smart, true, extravagant, and amusing praise for various acquaintances. Here’s a sample: “You have such far-seeing vision I bet you can see the back of your own head.”

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The pest control company Hydrex named the yellow jacket as its “Pest of the Month” for June. Previous winners include pantry moths, fungus gnats, and carpet beetles. I urge you to be inspired by their efforts, Aquarius. Home in on just one of the vexations that’s draining your energy. Forget about the others for now so you can devote your full attention to driving off the chief offender. Which irritant is the best candidate? Not sure, but consider red herrings or straw men.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): When Ro was pregnant with our daughter, she felt a daily compulsion to eat oranges and artichokes and read the work of Nobel Prize-winning bard William Butler Yeats. Is it any surprise that 11-year-old Zoe has turned into a lyric poet who loves oranges and artichokes? I bring this up, Pisces, because chances are good you’re pregnant right now, if only in a metaphorical sense. (Check to see if it’s literally true, too.) As a result you’ll be attracted to sensations and experiences that are unique to the brainchild you will ultimately birth.

Homework: What’s the best joke you could play on yourself? Do you promise to try it someday soon? Write:

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