Free Will Astrology: July 2 through 8

ARIES [March 21–April 19] Here's the first rule of panning for gold: Go to a slow-moving stream where flecks of the precious metal have been found in the past. The second rule: Gold, carried along by the current, is heavier than water and rarely appears right on the surface. Look deeper. A third pointer: If you do find substantial treasure, it'll be because you'll have accumulated flakes and nuggets over an extended period of time. Be patient. Now, Aries, apply everything I just said to your search for metaphorical gold.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] In "Get Behind the Mule," Tom Waits tells us: "Never let the weeds get taller than the garden." Heed that advice in the coming weeks, but don't go overboard and become a fanatic who acts as if weeds are evil demons from the ninth circle of hell: Keeping a few well-trimmed wild plants and a mushroom or two would be quite healthy. You need a bit of messy serendipity mixed in with your law and order.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard notes that there is only a tiny difference between the lifeblood of plants and animals. A molecule of chlorophyll contains 36 atoms of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon around an atom of magnesium, while a molecule of hemoglobin is the same except for an atom of iron instead of magnesium. This , as a metaphor, illustrates the choice you have ahead of you: As similar as the possibilities may seem, the simple thing you put at the center of each option will make a tremendous difference.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] It's Beautify Yourself Week, dear Cancerian. A conspiracy of cosmic proportions is preparing the conditions necessary for you to capitalize on this opportunity. At this moment, there is beauty behind you and in front of you. There is beauty to your left and right, beauty above you and below you. All you have to do is inhale, drink in, and otherwise suck up this lushness. It will interact synergistically with the splendor that is also welling up in you, and you'll be transformed into an almost unbearably gorgeous work of art.

LEO [July 23–August 22] Are you up for some slashing and smashing and crashing? I'm talking about slashing the price you've been paying for following your dreams; smashing beliefs that made sense years ago but are now irrelevant; and crashing parties where your future teachers are gathered. Once you get the hang of all that, Leo, you can move on to other brilliant demolitions, like cracking codes and shattering spells cast on you by the past.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] When Tom arrived in Santa Cruz at age 22, he was homeless and had $110. He quickly scored a temp job as a laborer at construction sites. His first assignment was at a place where a delivery truck had dropped a load of lumber at the bottom of a hill, instead of at the top where a house was to be built. Tom's job was to carry the heavy boards and beams up the hill one by one. He felt a bit like Sisyphus in the Greek myth (whom the gods punished by having him push a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down each time he reached the peak). Unlike Sisyphus, things got better for Tom: During the next 15 years, he became a successful real-estate agent. One day, he sold the million-dollar house built from the wood he'd once toted up the hill. This is a good time, Virgo, for you to plot out a long-term triumph that will match Tom's.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] It's the power-gathering season for you, Libra. Energize your efforts by defining clearly what "power" means to you. I've got two riffs to get you started. First is one from a famous French ruler whose name I'll withhold so as not to distract you from the riff itself: "I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies." Here's the second, from poet Dennis Holt: "Power is what sends the woodpecker down from his tree to poke for worms in the muddy road one morning after all-night rain on a ridge above the Pacific within earshot of the surf."

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] I'm not a big fan of Disneyland, but that doesn't mean I can't borrow its ideas for your use. The coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to identify your own versions of Frontierland, Adventureland, or Tomorrowland. I'm not talking about experiences and places that resemble glitzy theme parks, but rather the thrilling things that gently shock your mind into expanding. You're in a phase of your cycle when you'll tend to generate good luck and helpful synchronicity by pushing your imagination beyond its usual fantasies.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] Beginning in 1951, the U.S. government regularly set off nuclear bombs in the desert 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Most of the 1,021 explosions occurred underground, though for 11 years, some were also in the open air. Tourists used to flock to Las Vegas to watch the mushroom clouds, visible from that distance. As far as we know, the detonations ceased in 1992, and the unusual lifestyles of Las Vegas's inhabitants are not the result of mutations in their DNA caused by radioactive contamination. Let's use this scenario as a departure point for your own personal inventory, Sagittarius. What tempestuous events from your life are now confined to the past? Are there any lingering consequences? If so, what might you do to heal?

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