Free Will Astrology 

ARIES (March 21-April 19) One of the casualties of the recession has been grooming and primping. Many people are devoting less time and money to maintaining their appearance at peak levels. Make-up sales are down, and I've definitely been seeing more unkempt — or should I say raw and unadorned? — people lately. If you've been considering the possibility of cutting back on your own preening, now would be a good time to experiment. Why? For one thing, your natural attractiveness is especially strong these days. For another, you're entering a phase when you'll need people's approval less than usual. There's also the fact that anything you do to simplify your life will be a tonic for your mental health.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) Artist Amy Marx makes gorgeous paintings of tornadoes. She's your role model for the coming weeks. I hope that she will inspire you to use your chaos productively … to welcome elemental energy as raw material for your efforts to beautify your world. Are you up to the challenge? I think you are, although you may have to expand your attitude toward certain phenomena that seem disruptive.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) "I'm having a very good crisis," financier George Soros said recently. The global economic turmoil that has brought such stress for so many other people has earned him millions of dollars. That's no accident: A couple of years ago, Soros foresaw the approaching upheaval and made a raft of smart adjustments in anticipation. I predict that you will have your own very good crisis in the next few weeks — especially if you set aside some time now to plan all the ways you might be able to capitalize on the upcoming challenges.

CANCER (June 21-July 22) What I'd really like to see you do in the coming weeks is party harder and party smarter than usual. In my opinion, you're most likely to attract life's maximum generosity by shedding some of your social inhibitions and cultivating the pleasures of free-form networking. Believe me, I know how important it is for you to maintain the kind of strict boundaries that protect you from being overly influenced by other people. It's what keeps you in close touch with your intuition. But for the foreseeable future, I think you'll thrive on the unexpected blessings that come from giving yourself to the intelligence of the crowd.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Some celebrities have hired ghostwriters to communicate for them via Twitter. In a recent tweet from rapper 50 Cent, actually sent by his operative Chris Romero, his fans were told, "My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends." I hope you won't follow 50 Cent's lead in the coming weeks — either in the sense of hiring a ghost-Twitterer or in the sense of following your ambition down a tunnel that never ends. You need to work on eliminating middlemen and go-betweens as you pursue your ambition through sunlit fields.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) I give thanks for the dented, rusty brown-and-gray 1967 Chevy pick-up truck that my neighbor parks askew on the shoulder of the road a few blocks from my house. Its messy appeal helps snap me back to sanity when my own perfectionism threatens to de-soul me, or when all the shiny, sleek, polished things of the world are on the verge of hypnotizing me into believing that they alone should be considered attractive. Are there equivalent icons in your life? Funky, unwieldy, anomalous things that are sublime in their own way? I suspect you'll benefit from their influence more than usual in the coming days.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) ran an article on "5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't)." Those things: fame, wealth, beauty, genius and power. You might want to go read the essay. Even if you don't entirely agree with its points, it should inspire you to get more realistic about what specifically does increase your levels of well-being. It's an excellent time to home in on the surprising and idiosyncratic truths about what helps you feel like you belong here on this planet.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) In Salman Rushdie's book The Enchantress of Florence, an exasperated ally of the manipulative 16th-century politician Machiavelli tells him, "It's your curse to see the world too f------ clearly, and without a shred of kindness." Some Scorpios suffer from a milder version of the same curse, and right now you're especially susceptible to the problems it can create. I do think there's a way out, however. There's a shift you can make to turn the curse into a blessing: See the world as f------ clearly as you dare, but with a dose of compassion added. Then your shrewd perceptiveness will heal and energize you. You may even spawn minor miracles by penetrating to the slippery truths hiding beneath superficial appearances.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) If intelligent extraterrestrial beings arrived on planet Earth and asked for a meeting, whom would we send forth as our ambassador? Believe it or not, the favorite choice in an Internet poll was Ozzy Osbourne. Although he wouldn't be my own top candidate, I could see how a Sagittarian pioneer like Osbourne would make sense. Your tribe is especially adept right now at facilitating unprecedented combinations. If anyone could explain to an anthropologist from Mars the deeper meaning of Paris Hilton, the Octo-mom and the government's purchase of toxic assets, it would be you.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) At the risk of endangering her own safety, a Capricorn woman I know intervened to protect a 14-year-old neighbor girl who was being beaten by her father. Another of my Capricorn acquaintances informed her boss that she was offended by an unethical practice she'd discovered the company engaged in. You may not summon such extreme courage in the coming week, but I bet you'll get close. It's the Season of Fierce Integrity for you — time to dig deeper as you demonstrate your intense commitment to your core values.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) I actually kind of hope that your brain is in major overload right now. I hope that you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the new information you've absorbed, and that your imagination is a blur. In fact I'll go so far as to say that if this is the case, you're definitely on the right track. You're doing what's necessary to prepare for rebuilding your foundation in May. And if for some reason there's no blur — if your mind is as empty and clear as a cloudless blue sky in Montana — then you're probably doing something wrong. So get out there and start stuffing it with new ideas, radical theories, crazy speculations, wild guesses and raw perceptions.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) "I'm beginning to understand myself," said jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. "But it would have been great to be able to understand myself when I was 20 rather than when I was 82." While this might sound discouraging, it's actually a prelude to some very good news: You now have extraordinary power to dramatically deepen your self-knowledge. Between now and May 20, you might even be able to extract insights into your own mysteries that would normally only be available to an 82-year-old.

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