Free Will Astrology: August 3 through 9

ARIES [March 21–April 19] I expect that you will soon stumble upon a key secret to your next masterpiece. And I'll be surprised if you don't discover a healing agent that will be effective in correcting an old mistake. In fact, Aries, I prophesy that in the coming week, you will have a sense that you're doing the smart thing at least 90 percent of the time. Sorry—I'm afraid to say that I have no sad, bad, or mad news to deliver. If you're the type of person who thrives on cynicism, your immediate future may be pretty boring. If you're on the fence about the question of whether life is a gorgeous feast or a chaotic mess, your ability to deal with outbreaks of goodness will be supremely tested.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] In Salmon Rushdie's story "The Prophet's Hair," a greedy man intentionally cripples his four sons when they're young, hoping to turn them into beggars who elicit profound sympathy and large cash donations. The plan is successful: His sons earn him a good income. Later, however, he comes into possession of a potent talisman—a strand of hair from the prophet Mohammed—and it magically heals the sons' ailments. They're no longer able to pull in the big bucks, and grief descends upon the family. I bring this to your attention, Taurus, because I think there's a variation on these themes at work in your own life. A "magic charm" is available that could reverse, or at least neutralize, an old handicap. Do you have the pluck to surrender the questionable rewards that your impairment has brought you?

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] It should be an excellent week for potato-chip breakfasts, rapid mood shifts, and short-duration flirtations. The abundance of superficial exchanges that will be available to you could actually add up into something resembling meaningful breakthroughs. You will have the chance to explore the art of the five-minute epic conversation, as well as the science of giving a single look that speaks a million words. You cannot possibly plumb the bottomless depths of casual, frivolous, lightweight diversions, but you should try anyway.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] On one hand, you may find yourself unable to flow as freely as you'd like to in the coming week. I foresee the possibility that your streaming currents will get dammed up in places, or else shunted into narrow conduits that constrict your natural surge. On the other hand, this could compel you to make more practical use of your emotional assets. The applicable metaphor is the harnessing of a turbulent river to produce massive amounts of hydroelectric power.

LEO [July 23–August 22] If you really knew how much you were loved, you would never cry again. A sublime relaxation would flood your nervous system, freeing you to see the beautiful secrets that your chronic fear has hidden from you. If you knew how much the world longs for your genius to bloom, the peace that filled you would ensure you could not fail. You would always know exactly what to do because your intuition would tell you in a myriad of subtle ways. And get this, Leo: A glimpse of this glory will soon be available to you.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] First of all, my friend, you don't need any secondhand anything, let alone secondhand love. Second of all, dearest, you are hereby ordered not to hang around any third-rate situations where you feel like a fifth wheel. You understand? Thirdly, lover, I assure you that your sixth sense can now lead you—if you cleanse it of its superstition—to a place that is, if you have a good imagination, a suburb of the seventh heaven.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] I got an interesting spam letter today. A company that said it was very proud of its high-quality work offered to sell me phony credentials that are impossible to distinguish from the real thing. What caught my attention the most were the degrees from Harvard and Stanford. I wouldn't mind having one of those up on my wall. But I decided that instead of paying the company $230 for one of its excellent fakes, I'd simply make one myself. And instead of creating a degree from Harvard, I would have it be from a place where I have actually matriculated, namely the Raving Maniac Academy of Crazy Wisdom, which is the unruly school where I often find myself during my lucid dreams. I bring this up, Libra, because it would be an excellent time for you to make yourself a fancy fake diploma from whatever your equivalent is to my academy—you know, the source that has been providing you with so much great teaching, even though it's not an official institution of higher education.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] A Slovenian adventurer named Martin Strel swam the length of the Amazon River in Brazil. It took him over nine weeks to travel more than 3,000 miles, but he scoffed at the idea of conquering the River Nile in Egypt: "It's long, but not challenging enough," he said. "It is just a small creek." That's the spirit I hope you will summon in yourself during the coming weeks, Scorpio: a determination to take on only the most invigorating tests that require heroic levels of resourcefulness. Skip the lesser trials.

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