ARIES (March 21-April 19): The general consensus is that Americans are getting dumber. A recent study, for instance, reported that more people can name the characters in "The Simpsons" TV show than know the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Yet an article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker notes that Americans' IQ scores have been steadily rising for a long time -- so much so that a person whose IQ placed her in the top 10 percent of the population in 1920 would be in the bottom third today. One possible explanation: Our "growing stupidity" may better be described as a difficulty keeping up with the ever-growing mass of facts, whereas we're actually becoming better at solving problems. That's a key issue in my advice to you, Aries. You're in a phase that's favorable for upgrading your intelligence -- by which I mean improving your problem-solving skills, not accumulating more facts.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): This is a time when you must put one concern above all others: being true to yourself. Don't you dare elevate other people's needs above your own. Don't you dare let their guilt trips manipulate you into watering down your interesting quirks. You have simply got to devote yourself exuberantly to your idiosyncratic dreams. You owe it to yourself to learn all you can about your innermost secrets and ripening mysteries. You need to be ingeniously obsessed with serving your deepest, wildest, most noble longings.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): "It is not possible to get the blessing without the madness," wrote Norman O. Brown in his book Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis. "It is not possible to get the illuminations without the derangement." His words ring true for you right now, Gemini. Lately you've been pursuing (and getting pursued by) wickedly twisted yet fertile opportunities, and now you're near the climax of the madness and derangement. Next stop: blessings and illuminations.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): According to the Bible, Jehovah gave Adam the job of bestowing names on everything. But in Ursula Le Guin's story "She Unnames Them," Eve decides to reverse her mate's work. She yearns to return to a primordial state when the misunderstandings caused by words no longer stand between her and the rest of creation. So she unnames all the animals, from the sea otters to the bees. When she's done, she marvels on how they feel "far closer than when their names had stood between myself and them like a clear barrier." Take your inspiration from Eve, Cancerian. Bypass the ideas and language you use to cage your raw experience, and instead commune with the primal essence of everything.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Even if you're in your twenties or thirties or forties now, someday you'll be an elder. At that time you will be in a position to guide and inspire younger people with the wisdom you've gathered. Obsessions that motivated you at an earlier age will have become irrelevant to you. You will have learned to move with relative grace in and out of periods of darkness and uncertainty. You'll be less inclined to look back toward your own personal childhood and more oriented toward the future of your immortal soul, of your family, and of the human race. In the coming days, you have an excellent opportunity to tune in to the elder you will ultimately become. The veils between now and then are lifting. You have the power to prophesy your own evolution.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): When lightning strikes a human being, it's usually bad news. Not so in the case of a man from Maine named John Corson. After experiencing a whitish-blue bolt shoot through his body during a thunderstorm, he testified that his health became better than it had been in a long time. "I feel lighter and 100 years younger," he marveled. I predict a comparable (though less shocking) rejuvenation for you, Virgo. What you're going through or about to go through might cause a breakdown in some people, but for you it will lead to a breakthrough.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "Dear Rob: In my dream last night, it was my wedding day and I was flying like a superhero over hills made of millions of jewels and jelly beans. My superhero sweetie was soaring alongside me, and we were headed toward an ocean-side amusement park with a futuristic theme. Unfortunately, we overshot our landing and ended up plunging into the sea. Fortunately, we could breathe underwater just fine. We swam down to a superhero convention that was taking place in a museum on the ocean floor. When we arrived, we were given a wedding cake shaped like a giant key. What does my dream mean? -- Mind-Boggled Libra." Dear Boggled: Like many members of the Libran tribe, you're currently enjoying tremendous opportunities to blend adventure and intimacy. Your dream reflects how wide open your imagination is to the possibilities.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "We should take astrology seriously," says zoologist Richard Dawkins. "No, I don't mean we should believe in it. I am talking about fighting it seriously instead of humoring it as harmless fun." In his view, astrology is a bogus discipline that fosters superstition and undermines clear thinking. Opposing Dawkins' perspective was that of seminal psychologist Carl Jung, one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers. "Astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity," he wrote. He routinely used astrological birth charts to help understand his psychotherapy patients. Dawkins and Jung can't both be right, can they? I suggest you entertain the possibility that they are, Scorpio. In fact, try this dual approach with every major idea you care about. Experiment with what happens when you assume that both sides of every story have a piece of the truth.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Did you know there are about 200 mass protests in China every day? The Chinese people's enthusiasm for righteous complaining puts the rest of us to shame. How could we have become so passive in the face of all the crazy injustices that are going on in the world? I exhort you Sagittarians to rouse us out of our collective apathy. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you're currently the astrological sign with the most potential to unleash constructive criticism.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): An old African proverb says that cattle are wealth, and there are no cattle without dung. This idea is applicable to you right now. The source of your greatest riches has produced some waste matter that needs to be cleaned up. Ironically, if you act expeditiously, the waste matter could be turned into more riches. Take a hint from the Masai people, who use cattle dung as plaster in building their homes. The scent helps repel lions, who dislike it, from venturing too close.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Albert Lexie has shined shoes at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital since 1982. From the beginning, he has taken portions of his meager earnings and contributed them to a fund for sick kids who are poor. Recently his donations topped the $100,000 mark. He's your role model, Aquarius. The astrological omens reveal you will have everything going for you if you choose this time to launch a long, slow ascent toward a goal that may now seem improbable.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Excessive consumption of junk food has contributed to rising obesity levels in humans. Now wildlife experts report that bears are suffering a similar fate. The animals are so fond of the greasy, sugary scraps they scrounge at campsites and dumpsters that many are getting fat. The weight gain has had a surprising side effect: Many female bears are giving birth to three cubs at a time instead of one or two. You can draw metaphorical guidance from this vignette as you meditate on your own life, Pisces. Is there an instinctual part of you that has become overly fond of artificial sustenance and clever but worthless confections? If so, has this caused changes in your creative expression? I'm not accusing, just asking. In any case, it's high time to give the wild woman or wild man within you some gourmet soul food.