Horoscope

ARIES (March 21-April 19):
A new mockingbird arrived in my backyard four days ago. Taking up residence in the birch tree, it has been chirping its buoyant tunes in long, relentless concerts. This morning it began at 7, and is still going strong at 2:30, having paused for only a few brief breaks. I admired the creature's inexhaustible rapture at first, but at this point the only way I can get any work done is to stuff foam-rubber plugs in my ears. I'm serving up this vignette, Aries, as a warning beacon to you. Don't let your good thing become too much of a good thing.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20):
You have underestimated how much happiness you are capable of attracting into your life. Believe it or not, this artificially low expectation has cheated you out of your fair share of joy, pleasure, fulfillment, and a sense of meaning. Your assignment for the next four weeks is to jack up your levels of happiness by at least 20 percent. Work hard at this task, Taurus—at least as hard as you do at your job. (The greater your effort, the more cosmic assistance you'll receive.) To get started, divest yourself of a mediocre thrill that distracts you from an intelligence-building excitement.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
My ambitious friend Richard played the part of a tree-with-a-face in a local theatrical production of The Wizard of Oz. In 12 shows, he stood around holding a cardboard painting of a tree in front of himself. "With all the important things you have to do," I asked him, "with all the fun and challenging activities available to occupy your valuable time, why did you choose this dopey task?" With bemused languor he replied, "My life is too crammed with meaning, Robbie. I'm a 'drama king,' for God's sake—a junkie for epic storylines. So for once in my life, I decided to do something that had absolutely no purpose. And it renewed me beyond my wildest imagining." I pray that you'll take a page from Richard's book in the coming days, dear Gemini.

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CANCER (June 21-July 22):
The near future has too many diverse themes for me to sum up in one simple oracle. Therefore, I'm presenting you with a bite-sized prophecy for each day of the week. August 22: Blind fate gains the power to see, though it's still a little nearsighted. August 23: Confronted by one of God's trickier games, you'll just have to get trickier yourself. August 24: Maybe you could arrange for the tidal wave to arrive in manageable installments. August 25: Love makes you crazy—just in time. August 26: You shall know the hype, and the hype shall set you free. August 27: Freelance, moonlight, diversify, mutate.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):
Religious experts estimate that 34 percent of everyone alive will go to heaven after they die. Your actions in the next month, Leo, could virtually guarantee you a place among that elect minority. I'm not implying you'll be headed for the pearly gates any time soon, just that this is prime time for you to rack up a surplus of high-yield karmic credit. Why? Your charm and radiance are more useful to people than usual. You're likely to feel pride in pursuits that serve the greater good. And there is currently a sweet convergence of your selfish needs and generous urges.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
Are you brave enough to invite reality's messy richness to replace your pristine but inert fantasies? Are you mature enough to renounce your naive hopes and fears so as to see the raw truths that are right in front of you? Are you crafty enough to shed the part of your innocence that's based on delusion even as you strengthen the part of your innocence that's rooted in your love of life? Here's my answer to those questions, Virgo: Maybe you weren't brave or mature or crafty enough to pull off these heroic feats in the past, but you are now.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22):
Three times a week I take a long walk up into the hills near my home. One day last October I was surprised to find that since my previous foray, someone had dug a series of 20 large holes alongside the first stretch of my usual route. They were precisely dug and carefully aligned. What was their purpose? To hold fence posts or transplanted trees? To serve as the foundation of a drainage system? I still don't know. More than 10 months later, they remain unfinished and unused. I mention them now, Libra, because they remind me of a project that you began but abandoned back around October 2001. The astrological omens suggest it's time to return and complete the job. Either that, or fill in the holes.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21):
The devil didn't make you do it. He's not smart enough. God could have made you do it if He wanted, but that would have interfered with your free will, which is against His principles. No, Scorpio, the credit for your broken trances and shattered taboos must rest with what we in the consciousness industry refer to as your "higher self"—also known as your guardian angel, your still, small voice, or the grown-up version of your imaginary friend from childhood. During the rest of your long life you will provoke many breakthroughs that will serve you for a while and then fade. But the beauty your higher self has recently cracked open will resurrect itself over and over again until the day you die.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
I tried to get the famous yet wise Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh to be the guest author of your horoscope. I thought he could help me with my dilemmas: How can I encourage you to rev up your ambitions full blast without turning you into a stress-addled greedhead or egomaniacal power-tripper? What advice might help you channel more of your libido into serving your highest ideals? Sadly, Thich Nhat Hanh did not respond to my plea to create a spiritually correct version of this advice. Nor did the other sage celebrities I attempted to contact, including Deepak Chopra, Matthew Fox, or Starhawk. So I'll have to rely on you to figure out how to do it yourself.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
As I make a psychic survey of the coming weeks, I get visions of you rambling in unfamiliar territory. I see you wandering with serendipitous intent in places that seem outside of the inner circles and far from the heart of the action. Pretty radical stuff for a Capricorn; you usually love to be right in the middle of things. Here's some advice. Though you may worry that everything in these frontiers is beyond your grasp, you'll eventually find clues that revive your excitement about a dream you'd almost given up on. And though you may hate how vulnerable and unschooled you feel, you will sooner or later stumble upon a future power spot.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
If a filmmaker asks you to do a nude erotic scene in his indie flick, agree to it only if he allows you to improvise freely. If the CIA tries to recruit you to carry out a top-secret mission, sign on only if it involves travel to exotic places and a big expense account. If a close friend wants to enlist you in bending the truth for a good cause, do it only if the fabrication makes you feel profound and expansive, not petty and defensive. Do you catch the drift of the subliminal theme that underlies my specific examples, Aquarius? It's fine to slip outside your usual safety zone and modus operandi as long as you have enough power to make it really fun for yourself.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20):
The dog days are giving way to flamingo nights. The reign of the business-like vulture is ending, making it possible for the friendly dragon to share its treasure. Best of all, the bull you grabbed by the horns and the monkey on your back will soon lose interest in harassing you. I expect the three of you will then lie down together with the lion and the lamb, and you'll begin to harvest the rewards you've earned through all your beastly struggles.

Homework: What famous historical personage were you in your past life? If you don't know or weren't really, make something up. Testify at www.freewillastrology.com

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