FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, May 16, 2002

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It will be an excellent time for small experiments, Aries. Not grand, sweeping gambles, not daring excursions to the frontiers to tempt fate and court chaos. Instead, choose carefully contained trials to test the wisdom of departing from The Way Things Have Always Been Done. For example, dye a streak of your hair, not the entire mop. Write a light-hearted haiku to the person you secretly admire, not a ten-page love letter steaming with purple prose. Make a brief visit to the suburbs of paradise, not a pilgrimage to the holy of holies.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Sometimes you win by losing. A famous example happened to Helen Tweedy, who owned several top racehorses. According to the New York Times, she arranged for her mare Somethingroyal to mate with Ogden Phipp’s stallion Bold Ruler. A coin flip decided which breeder would claim the first offspring of the mating. Tweedy lost, and had to be content with getting the second-born foal. Here’s the happy ending: While the first-born never amounted to much, Tweedy’s consolation prize turned out to be Secretariat, a Triple Crown winner who appeared on the cover of Time. I predict an analogous twist of fate for you in the coming weeks, Taurus.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “In my dreams, I was drowning my sorrows. But my sorrows, they learned to swim.” So sings Bono in U2’s tune, “Until the End of the World.” I bring this up, Gemini, because unless you act quickly, your sorrows will also learn to swim. If you hope to leave them behind for good — if you prefer them not to follow you to your new world — don’t do anything to help them stay afloat in the coming week.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): I finally took down the Christmas decorations. It was past time. The red ribbon on the front gate had turned pink from the sun and rain. Most of the tiny bulbs on the outdoor lights had burned out. Even the tinsel on the discarded Christmas tree in the backyard was dissolving. As much as I disliked the hassle, it inspired me to dive into other long-postponed tasks, like writing a conciliatory letter to an estranged friend, addressing business problems I’d allowed to drag on, and going to a dentist for the cavity that had ached for weeks. I hope you get inspired by me, my friend. If you’re like most of us who are born under the sign of Cancer, you’re a procrastinator, and that is not a good thing to be in the coming astrological phase.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): On an autumn night when I was 19, I reached what I thought was the peak of accomplishment. My fledgling rock band had been selected to play for the homecoming dance at a high school in Gaffney, S.C. As I belted out our mix of original songs and covers of David Bowie and Grateful Dead tunes, I gazed down at the awkwardly dancing teens as if they were my worshipful subjects. Today, of course, this triumph seems laughable; my ambitions have evolved. Your own visions of success are now mutating, Leo. The dreams of glory that have fueled you for many moons will be replaced in the next month.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “I asked if I could have a purple light saber,” Samuel L. Jackson told Maxim magazine in discussing his role as a Jedi knight in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. “I just figured a purple light would help me find all the lint on my robes so I could pick it off.” That’s pretty funny anecdote to Star Wars as serious mythos. But it won’t be funny, Virgo, if you let it become a metaphor for your life in the coming weeks. Please don’t do the equivalent of using a light saber as a lint remover, or a diamond brooch as a doorstop, or a silk prayer cloth as a rag to wipe the kitchen table.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): When my daughter was in second grade, her class did a theatrical production of “Noah’s Ark.” In a stroke of ingenious casting, the teacher chose the rowdiest, strangest boy to play the part of God. Wry, evasive, histrionic, tender, and unpredictable, he was an effervescent alternative to the stilted portraits of the Supreme Being offered by the major religions. Your assignment, Libra, should you choose to accept it, is to be inspired by the wild boy portraying God. Celebrate the divine beauty of your quirks. Tune in the spiritual power of playfulness. Imagine a benevolent deity with a hell of a lot of soul.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Let the rites of purification begin, Scorpio. Flush out the gunk in your sensitive psyche, the angst in your courageous heart, the toxins in your beautiful body. In fact, purge and shun every influence except those few that propagate the jiggle and hop in your soul. Only you know how best to perform the cleansing, but here’s a goad to get you going. See if you can go seven consecutive days without even glancing at a TV screen.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I took a hike into the hills in quest of an oracle for you. Just before I reached a lightning-struck tree at a sharp crook in the trail, I found an omen: a dog-eared Tarot card, the 8 of Cups, lying in the dirt. Back at home, I consulted a book by Angeles Arrien, my favorite Tarot interpreter. She said the card means you’re feeling drained or emotionally stagnant as a result of overextending yourself or not honoring your own boundaries. I conclude, dear Sagittarius, that you should cut back on giving to others and take care of yourself better.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I have a radical request, Capricorn. It is among the most difficult tasks I’ve ever assigned, so I’ll understand if you decide you can’t muster the chutzpah to carry it out. In the coming week, I propose that before each action, you ask yourself, “What is the most savvy and abundant expression of love I can offer to the experience I’m about to have?” If you have the guts to commit yourself to this shocking experiment, I predict you will reap joy.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Our imaginations can drive us crazy, churning out endless streams of fantasies, theories, and judgments. So filled to the brim are we with these ephemera that it’s often hard to see what’s actually happening right in front of us. That’s the bad news. The good news, Aquarius, is that in the coming weeks you will be offered lots of cosmic assistance in attempting the heroic feat of seeing what’s actually happening. Can you imagine what it will feel like to gather objective perceptions of reality, untainted by clouds of assumptions and projections?

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Try to invoke the feelings that welled up in you after the trauma of last Sept. 11. Recall the ways in which that historic turning point roused you to rearrange your priorities. Think of how different the world looked to you through the filter of the shock. Then, Pisces, turn your deep attention to the drama of the Middle East crisis. Allow it to touch you with an emotional intensity comparable to that of 9-11. These two spectacles are intimately related, not only in their impact on global politics and human evolution, but also in their meaning for your personal life.

Homework: Describe the moment in your life when you were closest to being perfectly content. Then make a vow to recreate, during the next three weeks, the conditions that prevailed at that time. Testify at

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