VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In the coming weeks, you might want to read the last few pages of a book before you decide to actually dive in and devour the whole thing. I also suggest you take what I just said as a useful metaphor to apply in other areas. In general, it might be wise to surmise the probable outcomes of games, adventures and experiments before you get totally involved. Try this fun exercise: Imagine you are a psychic prophet as you evaluate the long-range prospects of any influences that are vying to play a role in your future.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): "Dear Dr. Astrology: I'm feeling lost but am also feeling very close to finding my new direction. It hurts! It would be so helpful if I could just catch a glimpse of that new direction. I'd be able to better endure the pain and confusion if I could get a tangible sense of the future happiness that my pain and confusion are preparing me for. Can you offer me any free advice? -Lost Libra." Dear Libra: The pain and confusion come from the dying of the old ways. They need to die a bit more before the new direction will reveal itself clearly. I predict that will happen soon — no later than October 1.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Welcome to "Compose Your Own Oracle," a special edition of Free Will Astrology. Departing from tradition, I'm temporarily stepping aside so you can have the freedom to write the exact horoscope you want. Normally, you might be in danger of falling victim to presumptuous arrogance if you imagined you could wield complete control over how your destiny unfolds. But in the days ahead, that rule won't be as unyielding, because cosmic forces will be giving you more slack than usual. Fate and karma, which frequently impel you to act according to patterns that were set in place long ago, are giving you at least a partial respite. To get the maximum benefit out of "Compose Your Own Oracle," identify three plot developments you'd like to weave into a self-fulfilling prophecy for your immediate future. Then start weaving.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Almost two-thirds of us confess that, if we are alone, we might sip milk directly from the carton rather than first pouring it into a glass. Fourteen percent of us have used milk as part of our sexual activities. One out of every five of us admits that we have "borrowed" someone else's milk from the fridge at work. Most shockingly, four percent of us brag that we have blown milk out our noses on purpose. I expect that in the next two weeks, you Sagittarians will exceed all these norms. Not just because you'll be in the mood to engage in mischievous experiments and playful adventures with milk, but because you're likely to have a loosey-goosey relationship with almost everything.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to raise funds in support of political prisoners or volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate blood at a blood bank. In fact, any charitable service you perform for people you don't know will be excellent for your physical and mental health. You can also generate vivid blessings for yourself by being extra thoughtful, kind and generous toward people you care for. You're in a phase of your astrological cycle when unselfish acts will yield maximum selfish benefits.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In his novel The Jungle, muckraker Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) exposed the abominable hygiene and working conditions of the meat-packing industry. The uproar that followed led to corrective legislation by the U.S. Congress. Sinclair remained devoted to serving the public good throughout his career. He liked to say that the term "social justice" was inscribed on his heart. Drawing from his inspiration, Aquarius, I suggest you decide what your soul's main motto is — and imagine that it is written on your heart. Now is a perfect moment time to clarify your life's purpose and intensify your commitment to it, to devote even more practical, tender zeal to fulfilling the reason you were born.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You know that "patch of bothersome weeds" growing right in the middle of your life? Is it really a patch of bothersome weeds? Or is it perhaps a plot of cultivated blooms that once pleased you but has now turned into a puzzling irrelevancy? Or how about this possibility: Is it a chunk of languishing beauty that might flourish and please you again if it were cared for better? Those are excellent questions for you to pose in the coming days, Pisces. According to my interpretation of the astrological omens, it's time for you to decide on the future of this quizzical presence.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Two animals are pictured prominently on Australia's coat of arms: the kangaroo and the large, flightless bird known as the emu. One of the reasons they were chosen is that both creatures rarely walk backward. They move forward or not at all. Australia's founders wanted this trait to symbolize the nation's pledge to never look back, to remain focused on advancing toward the future. The coming weeks will be a favorable time for you to make a similar commitment, Aries. Is there a new symbol you might adopt to inspire your intention?
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "The Simpsons" is an animated sitcom that will soon begin its 29th consecutive year on TV. During its run, it has told more than 600 stories. The creators of another animated sitcom, "South Park," once did an episode entitled "Simpsons Already Did It," which referenced their feelings that it was hard to come up with new tales because their rival had already used so many good ones. I bring this up, Taurus, because I suspect your life story will soon be spinning out novel plots that have never before been seen, not even on "The Simpsons" or "South Park." You could and should be the Best Storyteller of the Month.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Love won't exactly be free in the coming weeks, but there should be some good deals. And I'm not referring to risky black-market stuff obtained in back alleys, either. I mean straightforward liaisons and intriguing intimacy at a reasonable cost. So if you're comfortably mated, I suggest you invest in a campaign to bring more comedy and adventure into your collaborative efforts. If you're single, wipe that love-starved look off your face and do some exuberant window-shopping. If you're neither comfortably mated nor single, money may temporarily be able to buy you a bit more happiness.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): The current state of your fate reminds me of the sweet confusion alluded to in Octavio Paz's poem "Between Going and Staying": "All is visible and elusive, all is near and can't be touched." For another clue to the raw truth of your life right now, I'll quote the poet William Wordsworth. He spoke of "fleeting moods of shadowy exultation." Is the aura described by Paz and Wordsworth a problem that you should try to fix? Is it detrimental to your heroic quest? I don't think so. Just the opposite, really: I hope you can hang out for a while in this pregnant mystery — between the yes and the no, between the dark and the light, between the dream and the reality. It will help you learn what you've been too restless to tune in to in the past.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The imminent future will be a favorable time for refurbished models and revived originals. They are likely to be more fun and interesting the second time around. I suspect that this will also be an auspicious phase for substitutes and alternatives. They may even turn out to be better than the so-called real things they replace. So be artful in formulating plan B and plan C, Leo. Switching over to backups may ultimately bring out more of the best in you and whisk you toward your ultimate goal in unexpected ways.