Free Will Astrology: December 31 through January 6

ARIES [March 21–April 19] It's a great privilege to live in a free country. You're fortunate if you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams without having to ward off government interference or corporate brainwashing or religious fanaticism. But that's only partly useful if you have not yet won the most important struggle for liberation, which is the freedom from your own unconscious habits and conditioned responses. Becoming an independent agent who's not an unwitting slave to his or her past is one of the most heroic feats a human being can accomplish. And you, Aries, will have more mojo to do that in 2009 than you've had in a long time.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] American financier Jim Rogers evaluates life as many devout capitalists do: Under what circumstances can he achieve the most wealth? That's why he relocated to Singapore. "If you were smart in 1807, you moved to London," he said two years ago. "If you were smart in 1907, you moved to New York City, and if you are smart in 2007, you move to Asia." I'd like you to identify the driving force of your life. The desire for more money? Power? Love? Status? None of the above? The next step is to meditate on the environment and the conditions that would be most conducive to you fulfilling your quest. In 2009, you'll have the exceptional potential to create the ideal context for your success.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] When I was 19, I read Alan Watts's The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. After that, I was sure there was nothing else I needed to know in order to live intelligently. It was, I thought, a compendium of the best insights worth knowing. My certainty eventually faded, thank Goddess. In its place came the understanding that life's mystery just keeps getting deeper and vaster as one grows older—that it's idiotically arrogant to ever think you've got it all figured out. A healthier approach is to cultivate a capacity to be endlessly surprised. I hope you'll do that in 2009, Gemini. The flood of novel ideas and fresh perspectives surging your way will warrant it.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] "Dear Rob: These last few months have been absurdly full of pluses and minuses, ups and downs, lefts and rights. There have been so many good things happening and yet so many obstacles, too. It often feels like we Crabs are being rewarded and punished at the same time. I'm wondering where it's all going and when it will end. Will zero ever equal one? —Agitatedly Neutral." Dear Agitated: You're at the climax of a long balancing process. I suggest you take this opportunity to tally up the valuable lessons you've learned. Your graduation to a less ambiguous chapter of your life story will be more robust if you work hard to extract the meaning from experiences you've tended to see as random or confusing.

LEO [July 23–August 22] Fewer than 5,000 tigers worldwide live in their natural habitats, while the U.S. alone has more than that number in zoos. Let's use that as a starting point for you, Leo. How much of your animal essence is in captivity, and how much is running free? Is your inner lion able to wander at will through places where it feels at home, or is it trapped in a confined space it would never stay in if allowed to choose? This will be an excellent time to spring the great cat in you from conditions that make it pace in neurotic circles.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] In 2009, you'll receive a lot of help, some unexpected, whenever you phase out your trivial desires so that you can better pursue your truly important desires. The coming months will also be an excellent time to shed unrealistic fantasies so you can be freer to concentrate on the realistic kind. Why not draw up a plan for how you can take maximum advantage of the specific luck that will be flowing your way?

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] "God calls you to the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet," wrote Frederick Buechner. You're free to ignore that call, of course. You can pretend that you don't really know what brings you deep gladness, and you can act as if the world's deep hunger is of no concern to you. But if you hope to be proud of the life you have lived when, many years from now, you shed your mortal coil, I advise you to at least experiment with using Buechner's formula as a working hypothesis. The coming year will be an excellent time to do just that.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] Studies suggest that the average person who reaches old age has been upset with a family member for 30 years. Is that a standard you'd like to match, Scorpio? You will have an excellent chance to reduce any inclination you might have to hold grudges in 2009. The coming months will bring you ripe opportunities to dissolve tensions between you and your kin. You will also be more skilled than usual at navigating your way with grace and diplomacy through complications involving the home and domestic issues.

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