ARIES (March 21-April 19) You're fortunate if you can pursue your dreams without having to ward off government interference, corporate brainwashing or religious fanaticism. But that's only partly useful if you have not yet won the most important struggle for liberation: the freedom from your own unconscious habits and conditioned responses. Becoming an independent agent, not an unwitting slave to the past, is one of the most heroic feats a human being can accomplish. You will have more mojo to do that in 2009 than you've had in a long time.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20) Financier Jim Rogers evaluates life as many devout capitalists do: Under what circumstances can he achieve the most wealth? That's why he relocated to Singapore. "If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London," he said two years ago, "if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York City, and if you are smart in 2007 you move to Asia." I'd like you to identify the driving force of your life. The desire for more money? More power? Wisdom? Love? Status? None of the above? Then meditate on the conditions most conducive to you fulfilling your quest. In 2009, you'll have exceptional potential to create the ideal context for your success.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) When I was 19, I read Alan Watts' The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. After that, I was sure there was nothing else I needed to know in order to live intelligently. My certainty eventually faded, thank Goddess. In its place came the understanding that life's mystery just keeps getting deeper and vaster as one grows older — that it's idiotically arrogant to ever think you've got it all figured out. A healthier approach is to cultivate a capacity to be endlessly surprised. I hope you'll do that in 2009. The flood of novel ideas and fresh perspectives surging your way will warrant it.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) "Dear Rob: These last few months have been absurdly full of pluses and minuses, ups and downs, lefts and rights. There have been so many good things happening and yet so many obstacles, too. It often feels like we Crabs are being rewarded and punished at the same time. I'm wondering where it's all going and when it will end? A happy ending? A sad ending? No ending? Will zero ever equal one? — Agitatedly Neutral." Dear Agitated: You're at the climax of a long balancing process. Take this opportunity to tally up the valuable lessons you've learned in the relentless back-and-forth. Your graduation to a less ambiguous chapter of your life story will be more robust if you work hard to extract the meaning from experiences you've tended to see as random or confusing.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Here's an update on the world's tigers: Fewer than 5,000 are living in their natural habitats, while the U.S. alone has more than that number in zoos. Use that fact as a starting point for your meditations. How much of your animal essence is in captivity, and how much is running free? Is your inner lion able to wander at will through places where it feels at home, or is it trapped in a confined space it would never stay in if allowed to choose? Keep coming back to these questions during 2009. It will be an excellent time to spring the great cat in you from conditions that make it pace in neurotic circles.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) In 2009, you'll receive a lot of help, some unexpected, whenever you phase out your trivial desires so that you can better pursue your truly important desires. The coming months will also be an excellent time to shed unrealistic fantasies so you can be freer to concentrate on the realistic kind. While these are not quite once-in-a lifetime opportunities, they may be the once-in-a-decade variety. Why not draw up a plan for how you can take maximum advantage of the specific luck that will be flowing your way?
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) "God calls you to the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet," wrote Frederick Buechner. You're free to ignore that call, of course. You can pretend that you don't really know what brings you deep gladness, and you can act as if the world's deep hunger is of no concern to you. But if you hope to be proud of the life you have lived when, many years from now, you shed your mortal coil, I advise you to use Buechner's formula as a working hypothesis. The coming year will be an excellent time to do that.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) Studies suggest that the average person who reaches old age has been upset with some family member or another for a total of 30 years. Is that a standard you'd like to match? If not, you will have an excellent chance to reduce any inclination you might have to hold grudges in 2009. The coming months will bring you ripe opportunities to dissolve tensions between you and your kin. You will also be more skilled than usual at navigating your way with grace and diplomacy through complications involving the home and domestic issues.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) "Dear Rob: I have followed my nose most of my life, weaving from pleasurable diversion to interesting crisis. I've had a great time and wouldn't change a thing. But lately I've been getting hints from life that the game is changing. More and more I'm feeling like the grasshopper in that old fable — you know, with no resources stored up and winter coming on fast — while all the steady, hard-working ants are sitting pretty. So, do I really have to stop enjoying myself and get down to business, whatever that means? Are there any real jobs for grasshoppers? — Shaky Sagittarius." Dear Shaky: If there will ever in your life be a time you could figure out how to be both a grasshopper and an ant simultaneously, it will be in 2009. Start meditating on how to get the best of both worlds.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) The Swiss are building a 35-mile railroad tunnel through the Alps. It'll take another nine years to finish carving out the path through the mountain and will ultimately require the removal of 24 million tons of rock. I suggest you regard this masterpiece as an inspirational symbol. The coming months will be prime time for you to summon the willpower to get really serious about an ambitious project.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) I've got three quotes for you. Please write them out and keep them in a prominent place for the duration of 2009. They'll set the right tone for everything you do. The first is from psychologist Abraham Maslow: "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be." Next, choreographer Agnes DeMille: "Dance in the body you have." Third, historian Gerald Sorin: "When Reb Zusye went to heaven, God didn't ask him why, in his life on earth, Zusye wasn't Moses, but why he wasn't even Zusye."
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) What would it take for you to collaborate with the forces of change? Not in a resigned, resentful way. Not wishing things could stay the same forever. Rather, what would you have to do to feel eager to adjust to ongoing shifts? Is there any way you might learn to experience exhilaration and gratitude in the face of eternal flux? Your assignment in 2009 is to become an expert surfer of the blessed waves.