Free Will Astrology: January 7 through 13

ARIES [March 21–April 19] During his time in the Senate, former U.S. presidential candidate John McCain has been a strong advocate for Native Americans. As chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, he co-sponsored seven bills in support of Indian rights. And yet Native Americans voted overwhelmingly for Obama, who has no such track record. When asked why, Native American author Sherman Alexie said that unlike most other groups, Indians don't vote merely for their own narrow self-interest, but rather for the benefit of all. They felt Obama would be the best president for America. That's the standard I urge you to use in the coming weeks, Aries. Stretch yourself as you work hard for the greater good—not just your own.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] Hope "is not the conviction that something will turn out well," wrote Czech writer and politician Václav Havel, "but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out." That's the kind of hope I suggest you invoke during your current adventures, Taurus. Be hungrier for meaning than for any specific outcome. If you do that, ironically, the outcome is more likely to be one you feel pretty good about.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] Describing my writing, one critic said that I was "like a mutant love-child of Anaïs Nin and Jack Kerouac." This is also an apt description of the spirit you should bring to life in the coming weeks. So be like the memoirist Anaïs Nin: a collector of secrets, a connoisseur of intimacy, a fiercely sensitive alchemist who knows her own inner terrain better than anyone else knows their own. And also be like the novelist Jack Kerouac: a freewheeling, fast-talking, wide-open traveler in quest of the spirit as it makes its wild plunge into matter.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] In giving the Nobel Prize for literature to French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, the award committee praised him as an "explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." I suggest you consider doing some of that kind of exploring yourself in 2009, Cancerian. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you will generate rich benefits for yourself by learning from people and influences that are beneath the notice of the mainstream, whether they're outside the box, off the grid, under the radar, or immune to the taint of the collective delusions.

LEO [July 23–August 22] "Obstacles are a natural part of life, just as boulders are a natural part of the course of a river," notes the book I Ching. "The river does not complain because there are boulders in its path." I'd go so far as to say that the river gets a sensual thrill as it glides over the irregular shapes and hard skin of the rocks. It looks forward to the friction, exults in the intimate touch, loves the drama of the interaction. Sound like a pleasure you'd like to cultivate, Leo? It's an excellent time to try it.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] Until last August, Nigerian religious leader Mohammed Bello Abubakar had 86 wives. Then an Islamic council ordered him to divorce all but four of them. He was reluctant at first—many of his 170 children were from the wives he'd have to separate from—but since the alternative was punishment by death, he ultimately agreed. From the standpoint of your own evolution, Virgo, 2009 will be an excellent time to cull the excess and chaos from your love life. If you're single, narrow your focus to a couple of fantasies rather than a wide variety. If you're in a committed relationship that's worth working on, swear off any possibility of cheating or escaping. In either case, perform an exorcism of all the ghosts that might threaten to distort your long-term romantic future.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] "It takes a lot of time to be a genius," said author Gertrude Stein. "You have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing." I agree with her, which is why I have high hopes that you're going to tap into more of your dormant genius soon. The cosmic rhythms are nudging you to enjoy a time of slack, and I think there's a good chance you'll agree to that.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] Willa Cather said that if you're an artist and want to steadily get better at your craft, you need to continually refine your approach to telling the truth. I'm here to invite you to adopt that strategy in 2009, whether you're an artist or simply a person who wants to live your life artfully. The coming months will be one of the best times ever for you to penetrate to the heart of the truths you aspire to live by and become highly skilled at expressing them in every little thing you do.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] When gasoline prices soared last year, a Christian group called Pray at the Pump organized vigils at gas stations, where they prayed for God's intervention. Inspired by their work, I have asked my team of non-denominational Prayer Warriors to gather in your behalf. Every evening for the next 10 days, they will be calling on their connections with the Divine Wow to help you Sagittarians come up with smart and practical long-term plans for your financial well-being. On your end, you can supercharge their efforts by doing the appropriate research and meditation.

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