Free Will Astrology: April 15 through 21

ARIES [March 21–April 19] One of the casualties of the recession has been grooming and primping. People are devoting less time and money to maintaining their appearance, and I've definitely been seeing more unkempt—or, should I say, raw and unadorned?—people lately. If you've been considering the same thing, Aries, now would be a good time to experiment. For one thing, your natural attractiveness is strong these days. You're also entering a phase when you'll need people's approval less than usual. Anything you do to simplify your life will be a tonic for your mental health.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] Artist Amy Marx, who makes gorgeous paintings of tornadoes, is your role model for the coming weeks, Taurus. She will inspire you to use your chaos productively and welcome elemental energy as raw material for your efforts to beautify your world. You may have to expand your attitude toward certain phenomena that seem disruptive.

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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. 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. 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–August 22] Some celebrities have hired ghostwriters to communicate for them via Twitter. A recent tweet from rapper 50 Cent, actually sent by his operative Chris Romero, said, "My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends." I hope you won't follow 50 Cent's lead in the coming weeks—by either hiring a ghost-Twitterer or 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 [August 23–September 22] I give thanks for the rusty brown-and-gray 1967 Chevy pickup truck that my neighbor parks on the shoulder of the road a few blocks from my house. Its messy appeal helps snap me back to sanity 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, anomalous things that are sublime in their own way? I suspect you'll benefit from their influence more than usual.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] Cracked.com ran an article on "Five Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't)," which were fame, wealth, beauty, genius, and power. Even if you don't entirely agree with the essay's points, it should inspire you to get more realistic about what increases 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 [October 23–November 21] In Salmon Rushdie's book The Enchantress of Florence, an exasperated ally of the 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 I'd say that right now you're especially susceptible to the problems it can create. There is a way out, 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. You may even spawn minor miracles by penetrating to the truths hiding beneath the superficial appearances.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] If intelligent extraterrestrial beings arrived on Earth and asked for a meeting, who would we send 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 meanings of Paris Hilton and the Octo-mom and the American government's purchase of toxic assets, it would be you.

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