FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, April 25, 2002

ARIES (March 21-April 19): To drive home the point I want to make this week, I’ve gathered a list of slogans about what makes people decelerate. “I Brake for Leprechauns” is my favorite, but I also like ones that declare that the driver brakes for hallucinations, “Overturned Payroll Trucks,” tailgaters, and Mel Gibson. I hope these inspire you, Aries, to come up with your own personal version. Why? Because you can’t afford to keep barreling onward with heedless abandon. All the good stuff in the week ahead will come when you’re slowing down or stopping.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): On your behalf, I invoke the inspiration of things that shed. Your tree of power shall be the eucalyptus, whose bark peels away to reveal a fresh layer beneath. Your magical symbol will be the molting snake. You will have a secret bond with the silverfish, an insect that grows by bursting through successive exoskeletons. Taurus, I urge you to realize that the shedding process is natural, and that any discomfort you feel in losing your old surface will be followed by a sense of renewed elasticity.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church branded cats as “ambassadors of the devil” and called for their mass extermination. The virtual disappearance of felines from Europe was an important factor in propagating the Black Death, which killed 25 million people between 1347 and 1352. The disease was spread by fleas that lived on rats, whose populations had soared in the absence of their natural predators. Moral of the story, for you and me and all of us: Be careful whom and what you demonize. I don’t mean to imply that your creeping urge to create enemies would be as dangerous as the Black Death, but why stir up unnecessary karma?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): I know a woman who has decided to live without cable tv. With the savings, she has joined the Live Orchid Club. Once a month, for about the same cost as 75 channels of psychic garbage, she is visited by a deliveryman who fills her house with blooming orchids. Each time, he takes away the previous month’s batch and returns them to the central greenhouse to be spruced up by expert gardeners. I recommend that you make an equivalent trade-off in the coming week, Cancerian. What boring “pleasure” might you sacrifice so as to make room for a real thrill?

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Five planets are now hanging out together in the same little cozy patch of sky. Look to the west just after sunset and you’ll see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. According to astronomer Robert C. Victor, we won’t witness a similar spectacle again until 2060. And what does this mass gathering of heavenly bodies bode for you? It means you should brainstorm about your career, finish up old business for good, and supercharge your social network with the sweetest possible discipline.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Sacred is trendy! Among the many recent books that invoke the concept are Sacred Flowers, Sacred Hoops (about basketball), Sacred Monsters, and Sacred Sexuality. It’s fine with me, really. But a recent class offered at a New Age Expo — “The Sacred Art of Publicity” — tested even my capacity to find holiness in the mundane. What’s next? Sacred shopping? Sacred tv-watching? If anyone can make them so, you can, Virgo. You have a hotline to God these days, so milk it for all it’s worth. I dare you to pull off the sacred microwaving of a frozen dinner and the sacred eating of it in the car on the way to a class in sacred investing.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Is there any sense in which you might be able to live forever? Last week I asked you to purge your fixed notions about the subject and let your imagination run wild. So have you had any dreams of being alive in a different body 800 years from now? Keep prying your mind open even wider, Libra. Meditate on the fact that although most everything you’ve heard about reincarnation is a fairy tale, the mystery schools teach a far more profound and subtle version of the theory. And take a glance at a book called The Physics of Immortality, by physicist Frank J. Tipler, who mathematically “proves” that everyone who has ever lived will be resurrected from the dead.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A cosmic extravaganza is unfolding in the night sky. In the west after sunset, you can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn bunched together. What does this rare gathering symbolize? It means you have a chance to intensify and refine all your unique powers. I suggest the following: Identify the overlaps between your desires and your collaborators’ needs; explore what’s really going on beneath surface appearances; and purge any hurt or twisted feelings that keep you from tapping into the heart of your emotional power.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I wanted to explore a nearby town on my bicycle. A map showed a road that seemed a good shortcut, allowing me to avoid several miles of a busy highway. But as I pedaled along my planned route 20 minutes later, I found a detail the map hadn’t revealed. For a three-block stretch, the road was nothing more than a footpath that included a steep, dilapidated stairway. Rather than trying to carry my bike down it, I retraced my route and took the long way around. Moral of the story: Your current map is an inadequate representation of the territory. Don’t put all your faith in it.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Some athletes’ celebrations include a religious angle. After hitting a home run or scoring a touchdown, they tilt their heads up and raise their arms high, pointing skyward with both index fingers. “Thanks for the help, God,” they seem to be saying. Personally, I doubt the Divine Intelligence is interested in influencing sporting events. However, I do fantasize that She enjoys bringing about more subtle victories — like, say, the eruption of a new capacity for love and joy in a human heart. Fully expecting this for you this week, Capricorn, I authorize you to perform the same triumphant gesture.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): What kind of people have sweet, ripe, juicy blackberries in their backyard and never eat any, letting them rot on the bush? Don’t be like them, Aquarius. What kind of fool buys a lottery ticket that turns out to have the winning numbers, but stashes it in a drawer and forgets about it? Don’t be like that fool. What wise guy acts like he’s done it all, thereby missing a nourishing revelation that’s right in front of him? Don’t be like that wise guy.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): By order of cosmic law, thinking the same old thoughts and doing the same old things are hereby forbidden. You cannot afford to be bored any time soon; monotony is your devil. To preserve your sanity, I’m decreeing your personal holidays as follows: April 27: Ask Crazy-Like-a-Fox “Stupid” Questions Day. April 28: Defy All Weak-Heart Conceptions Day. April 29: Give All or Nothing Day. April 30: Take All or Nothing Day. May 1: Festival of Sauntering Past the Edge of the Known World.

Homework: What do you need to be rescued from? Whom would you prefer to perform the rescue? Write:

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