Free Will Astrology: August 11 through 17

ARIES [March 21–April 19] I started producing some good work within 10 years of launching my writing career, but I didn't hit my stride until the 18th year. Many other skills require a long training period as well. And as for the ability to carry on an intimate relationship: It usually takes a lifetime. I hope this line of thinking helps you get a more practical perspective on the specific prowess you're trying to develop, Aries. Keep in mind that it wouldn't be worth learning if you could become a wizard in a flash. Give yourself credit for how far you've come.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] Talk to yourself more. Not just with streams of chatter that meander aimlessly. Not with darts of self-deprecation mixed in with grandiose fantasies. When I urge you to talk to yourself more, I mean you should address yourself with focused tenderness. I mean you should be driven by the bold intention to lift up your mood, shower blessings on your vulnerabilities, and love yourself to the core. You will attract cosmic assistance if you do this playful work. You will bathe your subconscious intelligence with healing luminosity.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] I climbed the steps to the sanctuary, brushing off large spiders that kept landing on me. I stood in the rain for hours waiting for the gates to open. The guardian of the threshold wouldn't let me in until I answered his tricky and sometimes insulting questions. Through it all, I maintained my patience and poise and reverence. And when I finally entered, when I got my chance to penetrate to the heart of the rose-petal-strewn labyrinth, my persistence was rewarded. As I knelt there in amused awe, face to face with the sacred jokester, I got a useful answer to the most important question in my life. Would you like a comparable experience, Gemini? It's possible in the coming week.

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CANCER [June 21–July 22] Buckminster Fuller said, "Pollution is nothing but resources we're not harvesting." If that's true, Cancerian, you've got a lot of resources available to you right now, although they will have to be converted from their smoggy and effluvial state. So, for example, if you're a songwriter, the noxious emotions floating around could be raw material for a sparkling tune. If you're a lover, the peculiar vibes you're dealing with could inspire you to prevent a dumb pattern from repeating itself.

LEO [July 23–August 22] The monsoon rains have not blessed eastern India with their usual downpours this year. In response, frustrated farmers have resorted to a radical ritual: asking their unmarried daughters to get naked and plow the fields. They believe that this will embarrass the weather gods into acting correctly. I recommend that you use a different approach: Instead of shaming them into providing you with more love and mojo, try flattering them. As if you were celebrating Halloween early, go around impersonating a god or goddess who is overflowing with love and mojo.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] Two annoyances that had been bugging you before your exile have been neutralized. But you've still got at least one more to go, so don't relax yet. Redouble your vigilance. Check expiration dates on your poetic licenses and pet theories. Scrub the muck from your aura, even if your friends seem to find it "interesting." And learn to read your own mind better so you can track down any disabling thoughts that might still be lurking in remote corners.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] Your upcoming adventures will probably make no sense—unless you redefine what constitutes "sense." If you do that, your adventures could make absolutely lucid sense in a backward, upside-down way that will rejuvenate you sexually, spiritually, and emotionally. Here's another approach to understanding the point I'm trying to make: The epic drama you're about to begin may yield no apparent lesson and provide no practical guidance—unless you empty your mind and give up hope for extracting specific lessons and guidance—in which case you will be flooded with wise insights.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] What tricks have you employed to outwit your fears in the past? Remember them. Next, think about the people who have inspired you to be more courageous than you imagined were capable of. If you take these two actions, you will prepare yourself well for the week ahead. I'm not saying that the things you're scared of will be any bigger or badder than usual, but I want you to know that you now have the potential to gain a robust new power over them.

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] You are currently getting more miles per gallon and more bang for the buck than you have in a long time. Your IQ is creeping higher. Your knack for scoring good parking places is at a peak. It's been quite a while since you've been teased by thoroughly useful temptations. And I suspect that you have an enhanced instinct for taking smart risks. The only downside of all this good news is that you may not know your own strength. That means you should test it fast and find out more about its potential. Otherwise, you might break someone's heart by accident, or prematurely shatter the illusions of a person who's not yet ready to stop living in fantasyland.

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