Free Will Astrology: November 16-22, 2011

ARIES [March 21–April 19] If you go into a major art museum that displays Europe's great oil paintings, you'll find that virtually every masterpiece is surrounded by an ornate wooden frame, often painted gold. Why? To me, the enclosure is distracting and unnecessary. Why can't I just enjoy the arresting composition on the naked canvas? I urge you to take my approach in the coming weeks, Aries. Push and even fight to get the goodies exactly as they are, free of all the irrelevant filler, extraneous buffers, and pretentious puffery.

TAURUS [April 20–May 20] "Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle," said the 13th-century poet Rumi. More prosaically put: Evaluate people according to the nobility and integrity of the desires they're obsessed with. Do you want to hang around with someone whose focus is to make too much money? Or would you prefer to be in a sphere of influence created by a person who longs to make a useful product? It's an excellent time to ponder these issues, Taurus.

GEMINI [May 21–June 20] In Santa Cruz, there used to be a nightclub that featured live rock bands on a big stage but enforced a strict policy forbidding its patrons from dancing. The one time I went there, the music was loud and infectious, and I naturally felt the urge to move. Moments after I launched into my groove, a bouncer forced me to stop. I think this situation has certain resemblances to the one you're in now, Gemini. Some natural response mechanism in you is being unduly inhibited. Why should you continue to accept this?

CANCER [June 21–July 22] During the time a blue crab is growing to maturity, it is skilled at transforming itself. It sheds its exoskeleton an average of once every 18 days for an entire year. You're in a phase with some similarities to that period of rapid ripening, Cancerian. Your commitment to change doesn't have to be quite as heroic, but it should be pretty vigorous. If done in a spirit of adventure, it will be liberating, not oppressively demanding.

LEO [July 23–August 22] "Progress isn't made by early risers," wrote author Robert Heinlein. "It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something." That's exactly the kind of progress you are in an excellent position to stir up in the coming weeks. You don't have to match the stress levels of the Type A people who might seem to have an advantage over you, and you won't help yourself by worrying. The best thing you can do to supercharge your creativity is to think of yourself as a happy-go-lucky person while you go around dreaming up ways to have more fun.

VIRGO [August 23–September 22] "Our elders know you don't find the answer by asking thousands of questions," says an essay on the website of the environmentalist group The Last Tree (thelasttree.net). "The wise way is to ask the right question in the beginning." I recommend this approach for you in the coming weeks, Virgo. Given the mysteriousness that now confronts you, I know you might be tempted to simultaneously try a lot of different routes to greater clarity, but the more effective strategy is to cultivate silence and stillness as you wait for the intuition that will reveal the simple, direct path.

LIBRA [September 23–October 22] In a review of James Gleick's book The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, The Week magazine reported that "the world now produces more information in 48 hours than it did throughout all human history to 2003." From that dizzying factoid, we can infer that you are more inundated with data than were all of your ancestors put together. And the surge will probably intensify in the coming weeks. You are in a phase of your astrological cycle when you'll be asked to absorb and integrate a voluminous amount of interesting stuff. Don't be hard on yourself if you sometimes need to slow down to digest what you've been taking in.

SCORPIO [October 23–November 21] In his poem "Ode to the Present," Pablo Neruda tells us how to slip free and clear into the luxuriously potent opportunity of the present moment. The here-and-now is so ripe and willing, he says. "Take a saw to its delicious wooden perfume," he continues, and then "build a staircase. Yes, a staircase. Climb into the present, step by step, press your feet onto the resinous wood of this moment, going up, going up, not very high . . . Don't go all the way to heaven. Reach for apples, not the clouds." Such good advice for you, Scorpio! It's a perfect time to learn more about the magic of the present moment as you free yourself from "the unrepairable past."

SAGITTARIUS [November 22–December 21] Seminal psychologist Carl Jung wasn't afraid of applying his scholarly analytical skills to the phenomena of pop culture. Late in life, he even wrote a book on UFOs called Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. To be as thorough as he could possibly be about such an elusive subject, he wrote an afterword to his main argument, to which he added an epilogue, which in turn was followed by a concluding supplement. I hope that you are as scrupulous in wrapping up loose ends in the coming week, Sagittarius, especially when you're dealing with enigmas and riddles.

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