SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): How did humans figure out that a luxurious fabric could be made from the cocoons of insect larvae? Ancient Chinese sage Confucius told the following story. One day in 2460 BC, 14-year-old Chinese princess Xi Ling Shi was sitting under a mulberry tree sipping tea. A silk worm's cocoon fell off a branch and landed in her drink. She was curious, not bothered. She unrolled the delicate structure and got the idea of using the threads to weave a fabric. The rest is history. I foresee a silk-worm's-cocoon-falling-in-your-cup-of-tea type of event in your future, Sagittarius. Be alert for it.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): "It is the soul's duty to be loyal to its own desires," wrote Capricorn author Rebecca West. "It must abandon itself to its master passion." That's a high standard to live up to! But then you Capricorns have substantial potential to do just that: become the champions of devoting practical commitment to righteous causes. With that in mind, I'll ask you: How are you doing in your work to embody the ideal that Rebecca West articulated? Is your soul loyal to its deepest desires? Has it abandoned itself to its master passion? Take inventory — and make any corrections, if necessary.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I would never try to talk you into downplaying or denying your suffering. I would never try to convince you that the pain you have experienced is mild or tolerable or eminently manageable. Who among us has the wisdom to judge the severity or intractability of anyone else's afflictions? Not I. But in the coming months, I will ask you to consider the possibility that you have the power — perhaps more than you realize — to diminish your primal aches and angst. I will encourage you to dream of healing yourself in ways that you have previously imagined impossible.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): "You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at," wrote Piscean poet W.H. Auden. In other words, you have a responsibility to develop your potential and figure out how to offer your best gifts. It's not just a selfish act for you to fulfill your promise; it's a generous act of service to your fellow humans. So how are you doing with that assignment, Pisces? According to my analysis, you should be right in the middle of raising your efforts to a higher octave; you should be discovering the key to activating the next phase of your success — which also happens to be the next phase of your ability to bestow blessings on others.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): "Nobody knows really what they're doing," says Aries comedian Conan O'Brien. "And there are two ways to go with that information," he continues. "One is to be afraid, and the other is to be liberated, and I choose to be liberated by it." I hope you'll be inspired by O'Brien's example in the coming weeks, Aries. I suspect that if you shed your worries about the uncertainty you feel, you'll trigger an influx of genius. Declaring your relaxed independence from the temptation to be a know-it-all will bless you with expansive new perspectives and freedom to move.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Creativity expert Roger von Oech tells us, "Everyone has a 'risk muscle.' You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don't, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day." Here's what I'll add to his advice. If your risk muscle is flabby right now, the coming weeks will be an excellent time to whip it into better shape. Start with small, modest risks, and gradually work your way up to bigger and braver ones. And what should you do if your risk muscle is already well toned? Dream and scheme about embarking on a major, long-term venture that is the robust embodiment of a smart gamble.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Many people engage in laughably feeble attempts to appear witty by being cynical — as if by exuding sardonic irony and sneering pessimism they could prove their mettle as brilliant observers of modern culture. An example is this lame wisecrack from humorist David Sedaris: "If you're looking for sympathy, you'll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary." I bring this to your attention in the hope of coaxing you to avoid indulging in gratuitous pessimism during the coming weeks. For the sake of your good health, it's important for you to be as open-minded and generous-spirited as possible. And besides that, pessimism will be unwarranted.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): "You can shop online and find whatever you're looking for," writes pundit Paul Krugman, "but bookstores are where you find what you weren't looking for." That's a good principle to apply in every area of your life. It's always smart to know exactly what you need and want, but sometimes — like now — it's important that you put yourself in a position to encounter what you need and want but don't realize you need and want.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Bachianas Brasileiras is a nine-part piece of music that blends Brazilian folk music with the compositional style of Johann Sebastian Bach. The poet Anne Sexton relied on it, letting it replay ceaselessly during her long writing sessions. My painter friend Robin sometimes follows a similar method with Leonard Cohen's album Ten New Songs, allowing it to cycle for hours as she works on her latest masterpiece. In accordance with astrological omens, I invite you to select a new theme song or collection of theme songs to inspire your intense efforts on behalf of your labors of love in the coming weeks. It's a favorable time to explore the generative power of joyous, lyrical obsession.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): "I've spent my life butting my head against other people's lack of imagination," mourned Virgo musician Nick Cave, who's renowned for his original approach to his craft. I'm bringing this to your attention because I suspect you will be endowed with an extra fertile imagination in the coming weeks. And I would hate for you to waste time and energy trying to make full use of it in the presence of influences that would resist and discourage you. Therefore, I'll cheer you on as you seek out people and situations that enhance your freedom to express your imagination in its expansive glory.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): A scholar counted up how often the Bible delivers the command "Fear not!" and "Don't be afraid!" and similar advice. The number was 145. I don't think that approach to regulating behavior works very well. To be constantly thinking about what you're not supposed to do and say and think about tends to strengthen and reinforce what you're not supposed to do and say and think about. I prefer author Elizabeth Gilbert's strategy. She writes, "I don't try to kill off my fear. I make all that space for it. Heaps of space. I allow my fear to live and breathe and stretch out its legs comfortably. It seems to me the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back." That's the method I recommend for you, Libra — especially in the coming weeks.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Isaac Newton (1642-1726) was one of history's most influential scientists and a key contributor to physics, astronomy, mathematics and optics. His mastery of the nuances of human relationships was less developed, however. He had one close friendship with a Swiss mathematician, though he broke it off abruptly after four years. And his biographers agree that he never had sex with another person. What I find most curious, however, is the fact that he refused to even meet the brilliant French philosopher Voltaire, who reached out to him and asked to get together. I trust you won't do anything like that in the coming weeks, Scorpio. In fact, I urge you to be extra receptive to making new acquaintances, accepting invitations and expanding your circle of influence.