Free Will Astrology

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Among the Yanyuwa Aboriginal people who live along the coast of Australia's Northern Territory, the word for "fat" is nalu-ngiliny. It doesn't merely refer to the greasy stuff that grows naturally under the skin of animal bodies. It's also a metaphysical term for vitality. Anything that's rich in nalu-ngiliny is healthy. A certain landscape may be considered fat, for instance, which means that it's fertile and sacred. When acacia flowers bloom each year, it's a sign that sea turtles and the marine mammals known as dugongs, favorite foods of the Yanyuwa, are "fat" and ready to be hunted. Your assignment in the coming week is to identify the things in your life that are nalu-ngiliny, and to give them the honor, gratitude, and nurturing they deserve.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "Don't cross a bridge until you come to it," advises the old adage. But is that really a good idea? The fact is that the world belongs to people who have crossed bridges in their imaginations long before those bridges existed. Let that be your guiding thought in the coming weeks, Taurus. Start visualizing, contemplating, and building in your mind's eye a certain bridge you want to make abundant use of in 2008.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The German word selig can mean both "ecstatic" or "blessed." It implies that profound bliss can be a divine gift, that deep pleasure may generate or come from spiritual inspiration. The English language doesn't have a term comparable to selig, maybe because our culture regards ecstasy with suspicion. Religious people tend to believe that the blessed are those who are good and kind, certainly not those who are skilled at cultivating ecstatic states. People who worship rationality, on the other hand, like intellectuals and scientists, often think of ecstasy as at best an irrelevant state, and at worst a non-productive or deluded indulgence. Personally, I'm in alignment with the values embodied by the word selig. It happens to be your specialty this week.

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CANCER (June 21-July 22): To celebrate your ramble through the most wildly independent phase of your astrological cycle, I'm offering you three inspirational quotes. The first is from poet e.e. cummings: "To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight." Your second shot of motivation is from Clarissa Pinkola Estes: "If you have ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, or rebellious, you're on the right track. If you have never been called these things, there is yet time." Lastly, here's a Hindu proverb: "There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self."

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): What is the meaning of life? Is there such a thing as free will? Why is there something rather than nothing? If God exists, why does he or she seem to be invisible? Dear Leo, questions like those I just asked are completely irrelevant to you right now. To ponder them for even a few minutes would be a waste of time. Here, on the other hand, are the kinds of questions that will lead you in the direction you need to go. What is your greatest fear, and what can you do to diminish it? How could you become smarter about the way you love? What pose would it be a big relief for you to drop? Which of your wounds is primed for a dramatic healing, and what's the best way to begin the cure?

VIRGO (Aug. 23–Sept. 22): "The things that can destroy us," said Gandhi, "are politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice." You Virgos are better than most signs at avoiding six of those dangers. The one you're most prone to get tripped up by is knowledge without character. The coming weeks will be an excellent time to check in with yourself to see if you're guilty of that flaw, and then, if you find a shortfall, take steps to correct it. Make sure that you're not only being smart, but also wise.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It's Welcome Your Challenges with Open Arms Week. To take maximum advantage of this festive occasion, practice being grateful for your interesting difficulties; remind yourself of how much smarter and stronger they can make you. Celebrate the riddles and dilemmas that have helped and will continue to help transform you into such a uniquely gorgeous creature. Now study these words of wisdom from playwright Theodore Rubin: "The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem."

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I asked my readers to make a prediction about what age they'll be when they finally know exactly who they are. "I hope I NEVER completely know who I am!" wrote Bridjet. "I love discovering new things about myself, and to change as everything else around me changes. It is one of the most beautifully thrilling things about life." If you share that perspective, Scorpio, the coming days should be pretty fun. You're likely to become dramatically more mysterious to yourself. You'll be evolving, even mutating, in ways that may amaze you, and you'll be coming face to face with hidden aspects of yourself. Let the confounding, enriching expansion begin!

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): After studying the astrological omens and consulting with an elite panel of 20 village idiots, my team of horoscope experts has determined that at least once in the coming week you would be wise to wander around town with no particular goal, responding with innocent enthusiasm and hungry curiosity to whatever scenarios you happen to stumble upon, pleased to be educated by the random flow of stimuli that come your way. If you don't have the courage or leisure to pull that off, here's the second-best strategy: Go someplace you've never been and do things you've never done. Third-best: Spend an entire day being naked.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): A misguided swan became infatuated with a pedal boat at a pond in Hamburg, Germany. Apparently mistaking it for his soul mate, the devoted bird guarded the boat jealously and rarely left its side. The human owner of the boat found it amusing at first, but later regarded it as a nuisance, since the enamored swan chased away all potential renters of the vehicle. I propose to make this poignant creature your anti–role model in the coming weeks, Capricorn. May he inspire you to free yourself of all delusions you have entertained over the years about the kind of intimate ally you need in order to be happy.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us," wrote Franz Kafka in The Blue Octavo Notebooks. "If the book does not shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place?" I suggest you find at least one such book to help you get the most of the current cosmic configurations, Aquarius. More than that, I encourage you to find people and experiences and dreams that have a similar effect. It's that phase of your cycle when you can thrive on fertile uproar.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his love and his religion," wrote novelist James Michener. Your assignment in the coming week, Pisces, is to get at least three steps closer to being such a master. Use all your ingenuity and imagination to figure out how to bring the full force of your primal lust for life into every single thing you do, even activities that other people might regard as trivial or difficult or low-status.

Homework Think of the last person you cursed - if only with a hateful thought, if not an actual spell. Now send them a free-hearted blessing. Testify at realastrology.com

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