FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, September 10, 2003

ARIES (March 21-April 19): A study by psychologists at the University of Sussex in Great Britain has found that taking part in protests, demonstrations, or strikes is good for you. Interviews with activists revealed that participants experienced a deep sense of happiness and even euphoria at being involved in such events. By my reckoning, this will be especially true for you Aries in the coming weeks. If you haven’t already found a constructive channel for your rebellious mojo, start searching now.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “Both Picasso and T.S. Eliot are credited with saying, ‘Good artists borrow, great artists steal,’” notes music critic Peter Gorman. “Credit it to Picasso, and it comes across as bravado, a declaration that great art comes from those who appropriate whatever they damn well please. Credit the quote to Eliot and it seems more like word play — to borrow is to imitate and give back, to steal is to make it one’s own.” These tricky assertions about the creative process should incite provocative meditations as you negotiate a turning point in your relationship with your own fertility.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Trains in China are divided into soft-seat and hard-seat sections. “The soft seats are usually where you find the richer, stiffer, better-educated people,” reports Charlotte Temple. “In the hard-seat section, it’s like a little village. Everyone is eating watermelon seeds, playing games, leaning out windows to buy from the dumpling sellers.” This is an apt metaphor for the choice you now face. As you travel on to the next phase of your life, the soft seats will provide the greatest comfort, but the most interesting and educational events will unfold in the hard seats.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): You know about passive smoking. Now scientists have identified the phenomenon of second-hand depression, wherein victims inadvertently absorb other people’s misery, cynicism, and other negative emotions. Be especially careful to protect yourself against that contamination in the coming week. You can’t afford to be poisoned by out-of-control naysayers. You have an astrological mandate to nurture optimistic perceptions and articulate loving strategies that uplift everyone whose life you touch.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): On an episode of Stargate SG-1, friendly aliens called the Asgards come to Earth seeking help from the top-secret government agency they work with. It seems the super-intelligent, highly evolved Asgards have reached a dead end in their ability to fend off the Replicators. They hope their dumb allies, the humans, will be able to find some elementary solution that they themselves are too smart to think of. The idea works. An Earth physicist dreams up a crude but effective plan. Let this be a teaching tale for you in the coming week, Leo. Trust innocent, uncluttered, amateur solutions.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The largest meeting of world religious leaders in history was virtually unreported by the media. Leading representatives from every major faith gathered in Italy in 2002. They denounced violence committed in the name of God and religion and declared, “We commit ourselves to those who suffer poverty and abandonment and who have no voice.” The media deemed many other stories more important, like Mike Tyson getting his boxing license, John Walker Lindh’s court appearance, and the Enron hearings beginning. I bring this up because a comparable marvel is unfolding in your own life, and you haven’t noticed it yet.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “You’re only given a little spark of madness,” says Robin Williams. “You mustn’t lose it.” His advice is especially apt for you now. Here are some tips from librarian Bonnie Wolf for keeping a healthy level of insanity. When people ask you to do something, ask if they want fries with that. Have your coworkers address you by your wrestling name, Rock Hard Kim. Finish all your sentences with “in accordance with the prophecy.” Ask people what sex they are. Laugh after they answer. In the memo field of all your checks, write “for sexual favors.”

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): A few years ago the astronomy magazine Sky & Telescope held a contest to replace the name “Big Bang,” which many scientists regarded as too frivolous. I propose that you Scorpios carry out a comparable project: Find a new name for the divine intelligence. The terms God and Goddess have become abused and overused. And given the spiritual opportunities that will be opening up for you in the coming weeks, you can’t afford to have an impaired sensitivity toward the Great Mystery.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): For almost 60 years, Simon Wiesenthal tracked down Nazis responsible for the Holocaust. His most famous catch was Adolf Eichman, but he also brought more than a thousand other war criminals to justice. He recently retired. “My work is done,” the tireless 94-year-old crusader said. I hereby appoint Wiesenthal to be your role model. The astrological omens suggest that the coming months will be a perfect time for you to home in on a passionate, righteous commitment that will fuel you for years.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The ozone hole is shrinking and will recover. Current human life expectancy is steadily increasing. Since 1993, the violent crime rate in the United States has decreased by 50 percent. The number of America’s black elected officials has sextupled since 1970. The planet is steadily becoming more free: Democratic countries control 89 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Birthrates for teen-agers are at the lowest levels in over 60 years. Worldwide, the percentage of children enrolled in secondary education has more than doubled since 1970. In other words, Capricorn, life on earth is much better than everyone assumes. Inspired by my shocking evidence, compose a similar list of everything that’s going really well for you.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In the coming week, Aquarius, you’re in danger of seeing with your imagination rather than with your eyes; you’ll be tempted to trust the power of your beliefs more than the evidence of your five senses. It is possible to avert that fate, however. To assist you, I provide this curmudgeonly prod from journalist H.L. Mencken: “An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You have done without it long enough, Pisces. This state of deprivation can’t go on. Up till now there’s been a certain value in you not having the stuff you’ve been aching for, but as of now its continued absence would begin to have a soul-shriveling effect. So I hereby authorize you to take all necessary steps, as long as they’re ethical, to get the goodies. You may even resort to the desperate pleading that kids use on their parents to get a treat at the grocery store, including: “I promise to be good,” “I’ll never ask for anything again,” and “I need it!”

Homework: What are your tricks for cultivating non-sappy happiness and emotional wealth that’s free of sentimentality? Tell about them at

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