FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday May 23, 2002

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders asserts that, “Eating disorders among teens and younger children have reached ‘epidemic levels.’” It cites kids’ dissatisfaction with their physical appearance as the primary cause. Unless you’re a rich supermodel who has indulged in cosmetic surgery, Aries, I bet you’ve fallen victim to the contagion of this kind of self-loathing. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s now prime time to dissolve the habit of wishing your body were different from what it is. I dare you to summon the courage to love what nature gave you.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Here’s how my answering machine message starts: “If you are a telemarketer, please know that I love you and respect your struggle to make a living in this insane culture. However, I do not wish to talk to you about your magazine subscriptions, long-distance phone plans, or other fine products, so please hang up now.” Keep reading that passage, Taurus, until you grasp its subtleties of tone. I advise you to communicate in the same spirit with anyone who is trying to sell you ideas and emotions and actions that you don’t really need. Be compassionate as you succinctly express your convictions.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Ready or not, Gemini, it’s time to play! Get ready for adult and not-so-adult games; games you’ve never heard of and games you unwittingly invent; games that start at the end and work backward and games where you’re plopped down in the middle and have to figure out the rules as you go along. Let me get you in the mood with some teasing and pleasing clues. One of the most entertaining diversions will be called “Undressing Your Defense Mechanisms.” Another will be “There’s Something I’ve Always Wanted To Tell You But I Want You To Beg Me.” Now get out there and put on your game face, baby.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): My acquaintance John fantasized for years about making a pilgrimage to the Himalayas. It became his equivalent of a Grail quest, an emblem of joyous transcendence. At night he often dreamt of hiking along the snowy trails of Nepal’s majestic mountains. He saved his money, quit his job, and headed off last October. I spoke with him recently for the first time since his return. “How was your trip?” I asked. “It was disappointing, really,” he said. “There’s very little wilderness; the tourist industry is everywhere. But it’s OK. Now I have the chance to hunt around for a new symbol of ultimate meaning.” It’s time for you, too, Cancerian, to get a reality check on a long-running dream.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Have you heard of Johannes Jensen, Salvatore Quasimodo, Roger Martin Du Gard, or Frans Eemil Sillanpaa? It’s doubtful. I’ll tell you what they have in common: They all won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but their books are out of print and hard to find. Let this be your starting point in the coming week as you evaluate what you’re truly worth. Here are some other questions to ponder. Do you really need to have your greatness acknowledged to feel successful? Do others’ opinions of your value count for more than your own? Are you more for the approval of “important people” than of folks whose lives are entwined with yours? Is fame worth squat?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In “She’s On Fire,” a song by the band Train, the singer croons, “It’s not just a daydream if you decide to make it your life.” I suggest you regard this as your mantra in the coming weeks, Virgo. The astrological omens suggest you have a mandate to bring a fierce new intensity to the glorious work of fantasy fulfillment. I dare you to prove just how much you believe in yourself.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): After 15 minutes’ study of your omens, Libra, I realized I couldn’t find the right oracle for you while sitting on my butt indoors. Vigorous movement must be in your future, it was clear — animal energy, decisive action and strong displays of willpower fueled by physical agility. So I bolted from my house and ran gleefully towards the hills. The sun was sweet nourishment. Sweat baptized me, and the wind was my ally. I could smell the bright blues and yellows of the wildflowers and could see their heady fragrance. This is the kind of experience I hope you’ll seek often in the coming week.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): After careful reflection on the cosmic tendencies, Scorpio, I have selected historian Dan Fitzgerald as your role model. He specializes in researching ghost towns, buried treasure, forgotten oases, and hidden Indian earthworks in his home state of Kansas. Like him, you will derive a great deal of psychic energy in the coming weeks from recovering evidence of past experiences, almost lost to memory.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): My psychotherapist friend who specializes in couples counseling suggests that, before tying the knot, an engaged couple should test their compatibility with a month-long journey through the Third World. If they still like each other after picking the lice out of their hair in Bangladesh and nursing each other through bouts of diarrhea in Laos, they will have earned a license to wed. I think every couple would benefit from tests like this throughout their relationship. It’s a perfect time, Sagittarius, for you to embark on an experiment in togetherness that will bond you powerfully.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): During baseball season, a professional pitcher may hurl a ball 80 to 90 mph a hundred times every few days. Each throw requires many body parts to be coordinated in a complex motion. If a pitcher inadvertently develops a flaw in his delivery, no matter how minor, he can set himself up for serious muscle and ligament strains. That’s why some players visit the Biomechanics Lab at the University of Alabama Birmingham before they get hurt. Doctors there use sophisticated technology to detect nascent bad habits. To avoid having to go through rehab later, the athlete undergoes prehab. I recommend this to you, Capricorn. Take preventive action now.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Today’s best-selling poet, the ecstatic Sufi named Rumi, has been dead for 729 years. Prompted in part by his marketability, Time magazine even named him “mystic of the century” for the thirteenth century. Aside from Shakespeare’s plays and the Bible, is any other venerable text still so widely read? I doubt it. I recommend Rumi’s visionary love poems to you — especially during the coming weeks, Aquarius, when you’ll be in prime time to expand your relationship with spiritual and erotic delight. I dare you to seek communion with God while making love.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): The fork did not quickly gain acceptance as an everyday eating utensil. Though introduced to Europe in the eleventh century, it was regarded as an upper-lass affectation for hundreds of years. “Instead of eating with her fingers like other people,” a medieval clergyman wrote of a Venetian noblewoman, “the princess cuts up her food into small pieces and eats them by means of little golden forks with two prongs.” I invoke this history, Pisces, to suggest that the innovation you’re now in the midst of making may be ignored and even ridiculed at first, but ultimately it will become indispensable.

Homework: Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, imagine that you once lived another life. What was it like? Who were you? Testify at

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