Free Will Astrology: September 3 to 9

ARIES [March 21–April 19] "Like an ox-cart driver in monsoon season or the skipper of a grounded ship, one must sometimes go forward by going back," wrote novelist John Barth in The Friday Book. Consider using that approach, Aries. Retreat may be the strongest move you can make right now; surrender could turn out to be a masterstroke. But in order to get the most out of this strategy, you've got to keep your ego from injecting its agenda into situations. Don't act out of shame or pride; be objective, neutral, poised.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] One of my favorite memories is of gazing into my Taurus daughter's face just moments after her complicated birth. She'd been through a heroic ordeal that scared the hell out of me, and yet she looked calm, beatific, and amused. "She's part Buddha and part elf," I thought to myself as I held her in my arms. This unexpected marvel imprinted me deeply and has informed my work ever since. Do you have a comparable memory, Taurus—a time when a key to your destiny was revealed to you? This is a good time not only to revisit that breakthrough, but to ask life for another one.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] The governor of Minnesota has a wife who loves to go fishing. Tim Pawlenty told radio station WCCO that his wife Mary is genuinely driven when it comes to the sport. "Now if I could only get her to have sex with me," the governor added. While I personally lean toward the position that eros is one of life's best gifts, I don't judge Mary harshly for her preference. Many people find that the most satisfying and useful way to express their libido is through some nonsexual activity. You may want to consider that possibility in the coming days, Gemini.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] Normally, you're not the most direct person in the world. Nor are you the most concise. You sometimes display tendencies to sidestep the main issues and take the long way home to the truth. Why, then, have you apparently turned into a sleek paragon of precise communication? To what do we owe your crisp new efficiency, your knack for cutting through the crap, and your commitment to saying exactly what you mean? Maybe it has to do with the alignment of the planets. Or maybe you really, really don't want to be misunderstood.

LEO [July 23–August 22] Resilience is a quality that allows a person to rise above setbacks and find resources in unexpected places. It's a willful instinct to seek the higher ground and the bigger vision. It's intensely practical, because it shushes the nagging voices in your head that prevent you from acting courageously in your own best interests. This is Resilience Week for you, Leo. Activate those dormant reserves.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] Pregnant giraffes give birth standing up. Babies arrive in their new environment with a jolt, hitting the ground after plummeting six feet. Although they were fairly safe before, upon leaving the womb they are in danger of being preyed upon by animals like leopards and hyenas, which wouldn't dare attack their giant mothers. I'm thinking there's a resemblance between the newborn giraffes and a new project you're working on, Virgo. Its initial splash into the world may be a bit rocky and fraught with dicey challenges. But I'm here to say that if you're a vigilant caretaker in the early going, it will grow to maturity.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] My friend Joan was experiencing a cascade of annoying physical symptoms: mediocre digestion, mild headaches, chronic congestion in her ear, itchy skin. After two trips to her regular acupuncturist, there was little improvement. The acupuncturist decided it was time for more drastic measures: He was going to try a dramatic treatment that was akin to pushing a reset button on a machine. And it worked: Joan was freed from her nagging ailments and experienced a thorough rejuvenation. I suggest you do the same, Libra—push that reset button.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] "The reality of love is mutilated when it is removed from all its unreality." So said the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard in his book The Poetics of Reverie. He meant that realism alone is not enough for human beings to live on, especially in our most intimate relationships. We need fantasy to augment the merely factual perspective. Without the play of the imagination, our understanding of the world is impoverished and distorted. In this spirit, Scorpio, I invite you to be extra daydreamy and imaginative about love in the coming days. Feed your soul and the souls of those you love with experiences that arouse mystery and wonder.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] A teacher you will ultimately feel a strong need to learn from has recently become known to you, or soon will. A series of lessons you will benefit from studying throughout 2009 is already revealing its contours. I suggest you do some meditation and free-writing about these developments. Making your intuitions more conscious will prime your deep psyche for the work ahead, helping it to prepare for future educational assignments.

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