FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, December 12, 2002

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Your forays to the frontiers have been pretty successful, Aries. You’ve shown you can be courageous when not torturing yourself with doubt. You’ve learned how crucial it is to face your fears again and again. Soon, though, it’ll be time to come back into the heart of the action and translate what you’ve discovered into terms that even the most timid can respond to. I hereby appoint you to lead the way in creating a new tradition.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Start phasing out desires that lead you backward, Taurus. In other words, renounce your longings to recreate outmoded pleasures from the past, disown the drive to be someone you once were or to have something you once had, talk yourself out of your fascination with feelings that keep you attached to dead-end goals, and escape any addictions you might have to sensations that are irrelevant to your future.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Remember, I don’t just make up this stuff; I try to convey the cosmic moods and suggest how you might align yourself with them. Nonetheless, I’ll understand if you can’t summon the chutzpah to carry out this week’s astrological mandate. The omens say you would benefit from wearing a hand puppet — preferably an old-fashioned, thrift-store version — often in the coming days. In a different voice from your normal one, you should make it talk about the “shadow truths” of every situation you encounter: the crucial subtexts everyone knows but ignores, the unspoken mysteries that need to be named, and the illusions you can no longer afford to feed.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Slip into the furthest reaches of the inner sanctum this week, Cancerian. Penetrate to the heart of the core of the root. Know what I’m talking about? Peer down through the cracks in the surface all the way to the bottom. Dare to be curious about the unfathomable mysteries that lie beneath the obvious questions. Open the secret door that leads to the even more hidden door that will take you to the most private, fertile oasis of all.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): It’s an ideal time to create your perfect day — and good practice for 2003, when you’ll have cosmic license to enjoy a perfect day at least once a month. To get in the mood, read Tiburana’s version: “I’d wake up alone in a mountain inn in Slovenia. After a breakfast of hot milk and fresh bread I’d climb to the peak, stopping now and then to write in my diary and take photographs. The Vienna Philharmonic would be at the top, and together we’d perform the Brahms Requiem.” At the base of the mountain, “my true love would be waiting for me. We’d climb into a yellow ‘69 Stingray Corvette convertible and drive to the Adriatic coast,” where they’d picnic on hummus, strawberries, and chocolate as the sun set. “We’d make love, wrap up in blankets, and dream together all night under the stars.”

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): If all you’ve ever wanted is to marry a blond, blue-eyed cheerleader or athlete with six-pack abs and get a McMansion in the suburbs with a tank-sized SUV in your three-car garage, this will be a disappointing week for you. Nothing that happens will aid you in carrying out goals like that. If, however, you aspire to wrestle with the unripe side of your nature until it shares its enigmatic treasure with the rest of you, then the immediate future will bring cathartic revelations, spiritual orgasms, and ingenious changes in your way of life.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): A kitty litter box in Des Moines, Iowa, is a portal to another dimension, according to paranormal researcher Steve Stankel, interviewed in the Weekly World News. He claims to have used the box to reach a strange world where flowers float in mid-air and music can be seen as well as heard. I doubt if you will have as dramatic an adventure as Stankel’s in the coming week, Libra, but I do suspect that, like him, you will find extraordinary uses for seemingly ordinary things. Routine matters may erupt with exotic revelations. Normal people could lead you on curious detours. Even a billboard ad for pizza or an oil stain in a parking lot might contain a mystical omen if you stare in just the right way.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Your assignment is to create a symbolic shield for yourself. You’re not in any physical danger, and hence you don’t need a literal trash can lid or piece of sheet metal to hold in front of you; but in the coming week you’ll probably need to safeguard yourself against the metaphorical equivalent of rotten tomatoes being flung your way. Your assailants may not even be aware of how harmful their emotional garbage could be. That’s all the more reason to install your own version of psychic protection.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Great news, Sagittarius! The astrological omens suggest that you are now being asked to illustrate a theory advanced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his book Love in the Time of Cholera: “Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them . . . life obliges them over and over to give birth to themselves.” This is one of those moments, dear miracle-maker, when you possess the power to reincarnate without having to endure the inconvenience of dying.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): A higher, smarter form of love is calling you from the not-so-distant horizon. Unfortunately, you’re not ready to go in search of it. The problem? Your defenses are too strong, my dear. If you want to rendezvous with the sweet stuff, you’ll have to become less protected. Fortunately, I believe that 2003 will bring you just the experiences you need to accomplish this. And it all starts now. First step: Take inventory of the subtle fears that have motivated you to develop such strong armor. Consider the possibility that at least some of those fears are based on faulty logic.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Last fall I watched a World Series game with two psychotherapists who knew nothing of baseball. At first they were entertained and grossed out by the players’ constant spitting. But as the camera focused over and over on tight shots of saliva spraying from lips, the shrinks’ attitude turned clinical. “These million-dollar athletes are suffering from a collective version of obsessive compulsive disorder,” they said. I had to agree. But to be fair, I also noted that every close-knit assemblage of humans has some analogous pathology, often unconscious. What’s your group’s version, Aquarius? Is it amusing and tolerable, or does it tend to undermine your goals?

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): It’s my pleasure to reveal that this is the perfect moment for you to wish upon a star. It’s my nervous duty, however, to make sure that you choose the right star. A small miscalculation in the heavens can translate into a huge error down here on earth. Likewise, I must urge you to use surgical precision in formulating your wish. Even a tiny misstatement could result in fulfillment of the wrong dream. Sorry to be so complicated, Pisces. You’d think it would be child’s play to know exactly what you want and ask the right deity to bless it. But few of us ever accomplish this magic. Fortunately, you’ve never been in a better position to pull it off.

Homework: What would it mean to learn the difference between stupid suffering and wise suffering? Testify at

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