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Free will astrology

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LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): While watching fast-talking politicians talk on TV, my Polish grand-uncle would sometimes mutter, Zlotem pisal, a gownem zapieczetowal. I only learned what those words meant when I turned 18 and he decided I was old enough to know the translation: "written in gold and sealed with crap." One of your interesting assignments in the coming weeks, Leo, will be to identify anything that fits that description in your own life. Once you've done that, you can get started on the next task, which should be rather fun: Expose the discrepancy, and clean up the mess.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Years ago I did a book tour that brought me to Eugene, Oregon, where my sister and her husband and their daughter live. They came to my reading at a bookstore. My Virgo niece Jasper was seven years old at the time. I was surprised and delighted when she heckled me several times during my talk, always with funny and good-natured comments that added to the conviviality of the moment and entertained everyone in attendance. Who said Virgos are well-behaved to a fault? Your assignment this week is to be inspired by my niece: With wit and compassion, disrupt the orderly flow of any events that could use some smart agitation.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on," wrote author Samuel Butler. Ain't that the truth! You may be practicing as diligently as you can, gradually trying to master your complex instrument, but in the meantime your lack of expertise is plainly visible to anyone who's paying close attention. Luckily, not too many people pay really close attention, which gives you a significant amount of slack. Now and then, too, you have growth spurts - phases when your skills suddenly leap to a higher octave. The coming weeks should be one of these times for you, Libra.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In August and September, millions of seabirds known as Sooty Shearwaters leave their homes in New Zealand and travel thousands of miles to the Gulf of the Farallones, just off the coast of San Francisco. Why do they do it? The feeding is first-class; the tasty fish and squid they like are available in abundance. I suggest you consider a Sooty Shearwater-type quest in the coming weeks, Scorpio. The very best samples of the goodies you crave are located at a distance, either in a literal or metaphorical sense.