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, Aries, 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, Taurus. 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. (See Marx's tornadoes here: tinyurl.com/78xg63.)
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, Gemini - 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 astrological 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 that "My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends." I hope you won't follow 50 Cent's lead in the coming weeks, Leo - either in the sense of hiring a ghost-Twitterer or in the sense of following your ambition down a tunnel that never ends. In my astrological opinion, you need to work on eliminating middlemen and go-betweens as you pursue your ambition through sunlit fields that lift your spirit.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I give thanks for the dented rusty brown and grey 1967 Chevy pickup truck that my neighbour 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, Virgo? 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): Cracked.com ran an article on "5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't)." Here's a hint about what those things are: fame, wealth, beauty, genius, and power. You might want to go and read the essay at tinyurl.com/d974te. 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 happens to be an excellent phase of your astrological cycle 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 Salmon 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 of you Scorpios suffer from a milder version of the same curse, and judging from the astrological omens, I'd say that right now you're especially susceptible to the problems it can create. I do think there's a way out for you, however; there's a shift you can make to turn the curse into a blessing. Here's what you have to do: See the world as f------ clearly as you dare, but with a dose of compassion added. Then your shrewd perceptiveness will heal you and energize you. You may even spawn minor miracles by penetrating to the slippery truths hiding beneath the superficial appearances.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If intelligent extraterrestrial beings arrived on planet Earth and asked for a meeting, who would we send forth to serve as our ambassador? Believe it or not, the favorite choice, as determined in an Internet poll, was heavy metal musician and TV personality 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 successfully compare apples and oranges, it would be you. If anyone could explain to an anthropologist from Mars the deeper meaning of Paris Hilton and the Octo-mom and the American 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 on the porch by her father. Another one of my Capricorn acquaintances informed her boss that she was offended by a certain 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 to it. It's the Season of Fierce Integrity for you - a time to dig deeper as you demonstrate your intensely practical 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 of wheels within wheels within wheels spinning at top speeds. 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 are no wheels within wheels within wheels spinning at top speeds - 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.
Homework: Do you know how to turn one of your liabilities into an asset? I think you do. Prove it. Testify about your success at FreeWillAstrology.com.