FREE WILL ASTROLOGY: Wednesday, January 9, 2003

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I predict that after Castro dies in 2003, Cuba will become both a haven for American corporations seeking cheap labor and a more exotic version of Nevada, complete with legalized gambling and prostitution. Booming tourist trade from its northern neighbor will ultimately turn the island nation into a wealthy “paradise of vice.” Similarly, in 2003 you’re likely to be angling for your own personal Cuba: a new frontier where you can try out your dreams of expansion, a free zone where you can be more daring and experimental than usual.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Jack prays every day for years to win the lottery. Finally, God wakes him up in the middle of the night. “Jack, is that you who’s been praying so hard to win the lottery?” the Supreme Being booms. “Yes, Lord, desperately!” God pauses then says thoughtfully, “Jack, I’ll tell you what. I want you to meet me halfway. Buy a ticket, OK?” Let this joke be a prod, Taurus, to keep you from making the same mistake Jack was guilty of.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In my vision of your life in 2003. I see you adopting a secret identity as a superhero. Your mythic name will be The Amazing Underdog, and you will have two superpowers: the ability to steal unexpected victories in situations where everyone underestimates you, and the ability to defeat evil and save the world through modest, persistent effort and absolute integrity. Are you up for the assignment? If so, don’t tell anyone about it.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Upon completing The Book of Ephraim, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill believed he was done writing about the rejuvenation of his spiritual life. Not so. When he and a friend picked up a Ouija board soon thereafter, Merrill was given notice that he had more to do. “Three of your years more we want,” barked the Ouija spirits. “We must have / poems of science the work finisht is but a prologue.” If you consulted the ouija board right now, Cancerian, I bet you’d channel a comparable message concerning your own path. My prediction: A labor of love you expected to climax soon will ask you — perhaps even command you — to give it more time.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In the future, the material treasures you accumulate won’t win you the most bragging points. Ditto the important people you know, the deals you’ve swung, or your mate’s attractiveness. No, what will be most boast-worthy in the world to come will be your success in wrestling your shadow — how thoroughly you can tame the ignorant, flawed, selfish aspects of your own nature. Each of us is given an equal share of that leaden stuff, but some are more relentlessly ingenious in transmuting it into gold. It’s now prime time for you, Leo, to make rapid progress toward mastering that powerful magic.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” Philosophers long ago stopped trying to solve these seemingly unanswerable questions, says biologist E.O. Wilson. Scientists stepped forward in their place and now act as supreme arbiters of those mysteries. I regard this as a loss. Though the scientific method is a tremendous tool for understanding the world, many scientists refuse to use it to study phenomena that can’t be repeated under controlled conditions or explained by current models of reality. And I say it’s impossible to explore the Big Three Questions without taking into account all that stuff. Which brings me to the crux, Virgo: Your assignment in 2003 is to bring the disciplined objectivity of the scientific method into areas of your life that are invisible, subtle, secret, and soulful.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In the coming week, steep yourself in the sounds of gossamer melodies as much as possible, preferably while bathing in soft, golden light and sipping hot, sweet tea. Move and think and read slowly in the safest places you know, with the soothing touch of velvet or cashmere next to your skin. In February you can careen wildly out to the edges of reality, vividly bedecked and seeking delightful upheavals; but for now devote yourself to the cultivation of luminous, murmuring pleasures that comfort you all the way down to the bottom of your life.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): I predict that in 2003, researchers will use genetic engineering to develop high-yield soy and corn crops that thrive on toxic sludge and acid rain. I further predict that many of you Scorpios will produce analogous marvels in your personal lives. Some of you will exploit your old psychic garbage to create barriers to screen out new psychic trash; some of you will be driven by your nightmares to generate bright blessings; and some of you will turn your most acute pain into your hottest inspiration.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I predict that, beginning next summer, many films released on DVD will include three different possible endings. Consumers will be able to choose the climax that appeals to them most. This new wrinkle in the celluloid universe will have a parallel in the actual lives of Sagittarians in 2003. I predict that you will come to a crossroads at the end of a big adventure and take a long pause as you decide which way to go to complete your journey. Many of you will then try out all three possible endings before committing to one.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): I predict that marijuana will eventually be legalized for no other reason than that the government needs the money gained from taxing and selling it in state-run stores. Similarly, you Capricorns will be tempted in 2003 to set aside certain long-held opinions or traditions in order to be available for new financial opportunities. It’s not my job to tell you whether your actions are right or wrong; I just want you to be fully prepared for the choice you’ll be facing.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I’ve been dreaming about rock star Eminem: My mom beat Eminem’s mom at arm-wrestling; he and I collaborate on a c.d. that critics love but consumers shun. What does this mean? Since Eminem is the celebrity whose influence I regard as the most contrary to mine, perhaps my unconscious is suggesting that I deal more proactively with those I disagree with. Or maybe that my adversaries and I are alike in ways I’ve been unwilling to admit. My analysis of 2003’s omens reveals that you, Aquarius, should also identify the person who is most unlike you in the world — your Eminem — and ask the same questions I am asking.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): At a recent workshop, facilitator James Baraz told the following story: A woman came to a Buddhist teacher seeking advice about a problem. The teacher made a wise recommendation, but the woman said that she couldn’t follow it because of another problem she had. The teacher offered a second solution, which the woman also rejected, saying it would be impossible to carry out because of yet another difficulty. Third suggestion, third objection due to third problem. Finally the teacher said, “When your intention to change is greater than your intention to stay the same, then you will change.”

Homework: For five minutes, visualize the best possible thing that could happen to you in 2003. Then spend an hour carrying out a task that’ll lead to the best possible thing actually occurring.

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