ARIES [March 21–April 19] Miracle of miracles: A pointless pain in the butt will soon stop bugging you. Meanwhile, an annoying itch in your heart is subsiding, and may even disappear. This way, you will be able to concentrate on a much more interesting torment that has been waiting impatiently for your attention. Actually, it's an ancient torment dressed up in a new package. But it's one you've never had the right name for. That's about to change. You're finally ready to find the right name for it, and when you do, you'll be halfway toward a permanent cure.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] When he was growing up, the father of basketball superstar Pat Riley forced him to play basketball with kids who were stronger and tougher than he was. He said it forged his son into a winner. I can see the principle at work, but it doesn't come naturally to me. In my efforts to provide you with the parenting you missed as a kid, I've always preferred a gentler, more nurturing approach. Nevertheless, the time has come to override my personal desires for the sake of your character-building needs. I recommend that you force yourself to play with grown-up kids who're stronger and tougher than you.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] I wouldn't get too agitated about the "writing on the wall" if I were you. The handwriting is not God's. It's not even that of a wise elder or young genius. So don't attribute too much authority to it. It's just the opinion of someone who doesn't know any more about the ultimate truth than you do. So cover it up with spray paint and inscribe your own version of the writing on the wall. Reality is malleable right now, so the most forcefully expressed prophecy will probably come true.

CANCER [June 21–July 22] I believe that when you chatter carelessly about a change that's in the works, you're in danger of draining it of some of its potency. So I don't want to trumpet about the gift that's on its way to you. I'll just mention that it's coming, and urge you to prepare a clean, well-lit place for it to land. Here's a hint: It could, among other things, help you convert one of your vulnerabilities into a strength or inspire you to start transforming an area of ignorance into a future source of brilliance.

LEO [July 23–August 22] At the farmers' market, an escape artist performed in the middle of the street. As the crowd gawked, he had two big, strong men tie him up tight in a straitjacket and 50 feet of chain. For the next 20 minutes, he shimmied and contorted and bent over backwards. His face grew red and sweaty. There were no Houdini-like magic tricks; there were no puffs of smoke or magic boxes or mirrors or distracting assistants. He rarely spoke as the ordeal progressed, but in the end, after the last of the chains slipped off and he wrestled his way out of the straitjacket, he said simply, "Now I invite all of you to go home and use what I just did as a metaphor for your life." I realized maybe it would help you with your current situation.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] Your concentration for dicey assignments, like conquering fear and adversity, is sharp. And I bet you'll summon a lot of stamina and resourcefulness if you're pressed to solve a crucial riddle during a turning point in your own personal hero's journey. On the other hand, humdrum details have the potential to flummox you, especially if they involve tasks you're not even that interested in or committed to. The moral of the story: Banish absent-mindedness by keeping yourself focused on only the most riveting challenges.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] The sky will not start falling. But something resembling heavenly tokens may cascade down with such frequency that you'll be wise to keep looking up a lot. You never know when another piece of the blessed puzzle will come raining down. And it would be a shame to suffer the embarrassment of having your favorable fortune knock you over. Who'd have ever guessed that a shower of good news would be such a tricky trial?

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] How well are you capitalizing on this year's unique opportunities, Scorpio? Since we're midway through 2009, let's take an inventory. I hope that by now you have at least begun building the power spot or energy source that will serve as your foundation for the coming years. So much the better if it's more than halfway finished and will be ready for full use by the end of summer or early fall. Remember my promises: Life has been and will continue to be conspiring to get you settled in your ideal home base, supercharge your relationships with your closest allies, and connect you with the resources that will fuel your long-term quest.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] In the Middle Ages, people became adults when they turned seven years old. These days, the threshold is much later. I'm happy about that. In my view, the longer you can hold on to your playful irreverence and innocent lust for life, the better. Still, there is value in taking on the kinds of responsibilities that help you express yourself with grace and power. So I don't mean to rush you, but it might be time to take a step toward being on the verge of tiptoeing to the brink of preparing to accept more adulthood into your heart. You could make the process less harrowing by hanging out with those rare wise guys and wise girrrls who have survived the transition to greater maturity and a higher degree of professionalism with their youthful flair more or less intact.

CAPRICORN [December 22–January 19] I don't care what you feel this week, as long as you don't feel nothing. Get inflamed with hunger or justice or sadness or beauty or love, but don't submit to apathy. Don't let yourself be shunted into numbness. You can't afford to be cut off from the source of your secret self, even if it means having to feel like hell for a while. And the odd thing is that if you're willing to go through hell, you won't have to go through hell. So to hell with your poker face and neutrality and dispassionate stance. Be a wild thing, not a mild thing.

AQUARIUS [January 20–February 18] Most modern critics regard The Iliad as a foundation stone of Western literature. In my opinion, though, it's just a tale of macho haters who are inflamed with pride and can't stop killing each other. I share the perspective of poet Diane di Prima, who once had a dream in which the Iliad was cast as gangsta rap. Now please adopt the style of our critique for use in your own life, Aquarius. What supposedly noble or important situation is actually pretty trivial or clichéd? It's time for you to tell the truth about the hype.

PISCES [February 19–March 20] "May you live in interesting times" is actually a droll curse meant to be heaped upon an enemy. "Interesting" implies rapid change and constant adjustment. What's preferable is to live during a boring era when stability reigns. But I reject that line of thought. I celebrate the fact that we're embroiled in interesting times. I proclaim our struggles to navigate the sharp turns to be a jubilee of the first degree. May we be up to the task of bringing heaven down to earth. Now get out there, Pisces, and enjoy the hell out of the epic and entertaining drama we're stewarding. This is your time to be a leader and a luminary.

Homework: Write a parable or fairy tale about what your life has been like so far in 2009. FreeWillAstrology.com.

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