Free Will Astrology: March 12 through 18

ARIES [March 21–April 19] He "cleans up well" is prison lingo. It refers to a convict who, upon leaving jail, is able to overhaul his appearance and demeanor so thoroughly that no one can tell he has served time. I believe that in the coming weeks, you will have access to another version of this skill: You will so completely erase the traces of your own personal version of incarceration that everyone will assume you've always been a free bird.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] In an effort to create safer streets, some European towns are getting rid of traffic signs and stoplights. The theory is that if drivers have no visible aides to guide them, they will slow down and be more considerate. "What we want is for people to be confused," says an official of the German town of Bohmte. "When they're confused, they'll be more alert and drive more carefully." In this spirit, and in accordance with your astrological omens, I suggest that you spend a week exploring the virtues of living without any rules. Instead, rely on your intuition about what's most righteous and authentic to do in every situation. Proceed on a case-by-case basis, without invoking general principles or overarching theories.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] Before you attempt a quantum leap of faith over the yawning abyss, please remove your 500 pounds of defense mechanisms first. Your success in soaring the whole distance will require you to be free of emotional baggage. As long as you fulfill this simple prerequisite, I'm in favor of you risking the transition. It's about time you summoned more zeal to follow the path with heart, even if that path resumes on the other side of the great divide.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] There's a place in Venezuela where lightning storms rage 10 hours a night, 150 days of the year. It's where the Catatumbo River flows into Lake Maracaibo. Humans put their lives at risk to be near this persistent storm. The upside of the phenomenon is that it generates a significant portion of our planet's ozone, and produces so much light that it helps ships navigate up to 250 miles away. If you encounter anything with a metaphorical resemblance to the Catatumbo lightning in the coming days, I suggest you enjoy it from a distance. That way, it'll provide you with all of its benefits and none of its dangers.

LEO [July 23–August 22] A psychotherapist friend told me that most of his clients' problems fit into one of three categories: ordinary but interesting; bizarre and interesting; bizarre but dull. What's your style, Leo? Even if you're normally the "ordinary but interesting" type, I suspect that you've entered—at least temporarily—the ranks of the "bizarre but interesting" crowd. There's a big potential perk to this development: It may supply you with a steady flow of colorful melodrama, allowing you to win friends and influence people as you regale them with tales of your strangely entertaining life.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] Having friendly arguments will be an excellent strategy for generating clarity in the coming days. Since everyone has a piece of the truth but no one has more than a piece, the whole story will have to be assembled from a variety of fragments. I foresee you and your cohorts banging your partial truths together, fighting and collaborating in an untidy quest to transcend each of your own narrow perspectives. Your mantra is William Blake's assertion: "Without Contraries is no progression."

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] George W. Bush is the most unpopular U.S. president in history. His 19 percent approval rating in February was even worse than that of the king of disgrace, Richard Nixon. A growing consensus among historians also suggests that Bush is the worst president ever. The debacle of the Iraq invasion is the chief factor in that appraisal, but there's so much more. To name a few: the plunging value of the dollar, the stupendous national debt, the rapid degeneration of the environment, the catastrophic loss of civil liberties, and the abuse of human rights. And yet Bush has done one wonderful deed that has been unsung: He has poured billions of dollars of aid into Africa, more than any previous president. In accordance with your current astrological omens, Libra, I challenge you to do what I just did: Look for redemption in an influence that has created a mess or broken your heart.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] A heterosexual man who is seeking a partner often doesn't want a woman to be complete unto herself; he hopes she'll feel inadequate and lost without him. Similarly, many hetero women demand that their men be absolutely dependent on them. Those of the gay persuasion aren't necessarily any different; quite a few also prefer their consorts to be unable to thrive alone. But there are also plenty of people who want their intimate relationships to be an alliance of strong, equal, independent partners. Where do you stand on this issue, Scorpio? It's an ideal time for you to cultivate a longing for a bond in which you are complete unto yourself and your partner is complete unto himself or herself.

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