Free Will Astrology: December 29-January 4

ARIES [March 21–April 19] "Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed," said Irene Peter. That should be cautionary advice for you in 2011, Aries. From what I can tell, it will be relatively easy for you to rearrange the way things look, but trickier to transform them from the inside out. You will have to be vigilant to keep from getting swept up in the giddiness of big talk at the expense of practical action. You'll have to push hard to make sure that seductive ideas are translated into concrete details. Can you do it? I think you can.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] In 1967, John McCain was a U.S. Navy pilot fighting in Vietnam. Shot down during a bombing mission, he was jailed in Hanoi Hilton prison camp, where he was tortured. After being freed in 1973, he returned to the U.S. and launched a political career. When he ran for president in 2008, his candidacy got an endorsement from an unlikely source: Tran Trong Duyet, the Vietnamese prison commander who had supervised his torture. I expect you to experience a turnaround that will have comparable poetic justice. Maybe an adversary will praise you, a person who wounded you will make amends, or a force of nature that once opposed you will come over to your side. Twenty-eleven will be a Year of Vindicating Reversals.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] Can you escape the pain you got imprinted with during adolescence? Is it a possibility that you could triumph over the conditioning you absorbed before you knew how to talk? Do you have the power to do what few of us have done, which is to get out from under the weight of the past and live brave and free in the raw truth of NOW? If there will ever in your life be a time when you can accomplish at least some of this noble quest, Gemini, it will be in 2011.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] Decades ago, the U.S. built a network of sleek expressways to make it fast and easy for cars to travel between cities. But like many of America's impressive engineering feats, this one took little account of what the human soul might enjoy. Ugly buildings or empty spaces surround many of those roads. Visually, the difference between I-95 in Georgia and I-74 in Illinois is negligible. You cannot afford to let this be your operative metaphor in 2011, Cancerian. Your potential for rapid, extensive progress is sizable, but it would be a mistake to barrel along with your eyes fixed on the prize in the distance as you neglect what's happening along the way. Be both global and local; romance the details as you revel in the big picture.

LEO [July 23–August 22] Fixing people's teeth is one of Dr. Peter Kertesz's specialties. Now and then he's also called on to practice an exotic variation: animal dentistry. Recently, he corrected the tooth problems of two tigers in a zoo. In 2011, Leo, I suggest you consider branching out like Dr. Kertesz. What would be the equivalent, in your domain, of expanding the ways you use your primary skills?

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] "What can I do with this eternal longing?" That's the first line of "Assouf," by Tinariwen. During the rest of the tune, the singer never offers a definitive answer to that plea, but as he tumbles and rumbles over the possibilities, the band plays a lot of righteous music. I suggest that you make Tinariwen's cry your question of the year in 2011. It will be an excellent use of your time to meditate on how to call forth, nurture, and direct your ineffable, insatiable yearning.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] In 2011, I believe you will have the chance to weave your fortunes together with an abundance of allies who are good for you. They will be your equals, they will share at least some of your most important values, and they will respect you for who you are. My only worry is that you might shy away from the demands that such invigorating collaborations will make on you. It would be less work, after all, to fall back into reliance on more prosaic relationships that don't ask so much of you. Please don't take the easy way out, Libra. Rise to the occasion!

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] Michelangelo didn't think of himself as primarily a painter. Yet in 1508 he was coaxed into painting prodigious frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. As he worked for four years, covering 12,000 square feet with images, he sometimes felt resentful. The project took him away from two large sculptures he would have preferred to be working on. He feared his enemies had convinced the Pope to give him this task in order to demonstrate how mediocre his painting was. But today his work at the Sistine Chapel is regarded as a masterpiece. I suspect that in 2011 you may face a version of Michelangelo's dilemma, Scorpio: being offered a job you don't consider your forte. It's quite possible, however, that accepting this "diversion" will yield interesting results.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] "When I became a man I put away childish things," said C.S. Lewis, "including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." I suggest you take up that attitude yourself in 2011, Sagittarius. One of your top assignments in the coming months will be to play with greater intensity and more frequency and a heightened imagination. If you want to achieve your adult goals, you'll be wise to re-create your childhood wisdom on a higher octave.

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