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Free Will Astrology: Mental Hygiene 

Horoscopes for Feb. 18-24

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PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20)
In the long-running TV show M*A*S*H, the character known as Sidney Freedman was a psychiatrist who did his best to nurture the mental health of the soldiers in his care. He sometimes departed from conventional therapeutic approaches. In the series finale, he delivered the following speech, which I believe is highly pertinent to your current quest for good mental hygiene: "I told you people something a long time ago, and it's just as pertinent today as it was then. Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice: Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."

ARIES (March 21-April 19)
"Old paint on a canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent," said playwright Lillian Hellman. "When that happens, it is possible to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea." Why does this happen? Because the painter changed his or her mind. Early images were replaced, painted over. I suspect that a metaphorical version of this is underway in your life. Certain choices you made in the past got supplanted by choices you made later. They disappeared from view. But now those older possibilities are re-emerging for your consideration. I'm not saying what you should do about them. I simply want to alert you to their ghostly presence so they don't cause confusion.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20)
Let's talk about your mouth. Since your words flow from it, you use it to create and shape a lot of your experiences. Your mouth is also the place where food and drink enter your body, as well as some of the air you breathe. So it's crucial to fueling every move you make. You experience the beloved sense of taste in your mouth. You use your mouth for kissing and other amorous activities. With its help, you sing, moan, shout and laugh. It's quite expressive, too. As you move its many muscles, you send out an array of emotional signals. I've provided this summary in the hope of inspiring you to celebrate your mouth, Taurus. It's prime time to enhance your appreciation of its blessings!

GEMINI (May 21-June 20)
Coloring books for adults are best-sellers. Tightly wound folks relieve their stress by using crayons and markers to brighten up black-and-white drawings of butterflies, flowers, mandalas and pretty fishes. I highly recommend that you avoid this type of recreation in the next three weeks, as it would send the wrong message to your subconscious mind. You should expend as little energy as possible working within frameworks that others have made. You need to focus on designing and constructing your own frameworks.

CANCER (June 21-July 22)
The Old Testament book of Leviticus presents a long list of forbidden activities, and declares that anyone who commits them should be punished. You're not supposed to get tattoos, have messy hair, consult oracles, work on Sunday, wear clothes that blend wool and linen, plant different seeds in the same field or eat snails, prawns, pigs and crabs. (It's OK to buy slaves, though.) We laugh at how absurd it would be for us to obey these outdated rules and prohibitions, and yet many of us retain a superstitious loyalty toward guidelines and beliefs that are almost equally obsolete. Here's the good news, Cancerian: Now is an excellent time to dismantle or purge your own fossilized formulas.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22)
"I would not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well," said the philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau. In accordance with your astrological constitution, Leo, I authorize you to use this declaration as your own almost any time you feel like it. But I do suggest that you make an exception to the rule during the next four weeks. In my opinion, it will be time to focus on increasing your understanding of the people you care about—even if that effort takes time and energy away from your quest for ultimate self-knowledge. Don't worry: You can return to emphasizing Thoreau's perspective by the equinox.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
You are entering the inquisitive phase of your astrological cycle. One of the best ways to thrive during the coming weeks will be to ask more questions than you have asked since you were 5 years old. Curiosity and good listening skills will be superpowers that you should you strive to activate. For now, what matters most is not what you already know but rather what you need to find out. It's a favorable time to gather information about riddles and mysteries that have perplexed you for a long time. Be super-receptive and extra wide-eyed!

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
Poet Barbara Hamby says the Russian word ostyt can be used to describe "a cup of tea that is too hot, but after you walk to the next room, and return, it is too cool." A little birdie told me that this may be an apt metaphor for a current situation in your life. I completely understand if you wish the tea had lost less of its original warmth, and was exactly the temperature you like, neither burning nor tepid. But that won't happen unless you try to reheat it, which would change the taste. So what should you do? One way or the other, a compromise will be necessary. Do you want the lukewarm tea or the hot tea with a different flavor?

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
Russian writer Ivan Turgenev was a Scorpio. Midway through his first novel Rudin, his main character Dmitrii Nikolaevich Rudin alludes to a problem that affects many Scorpios. "Do you see that apple tree?" Rudin asks a female companion. "It is broken by the weight and abundance of its own fruit." Ouch! I want very much for you Scorpios to be spared a fate like that in the coming weeks. That's why I propose that you scheme about how you will express the immense creativity that will be welling up in you. Don't let your lush and succulent output go to waste.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
Asking you Sagittarians to be patient may be akin to ordering a bonfire to burn more politely. But it's my duty to inform you of the cosmic tendencies, so I will request your forbearance for now. How about some nuances to make it more palatable? Here's a quote from author David G. Allen: "Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind." Novelist Gustave Flaubert: "Talent is a long patience." French playwright Molière: "Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit." Writer Anne Lamott: "Hope is a revolutionary patience." I've saved the best for last, from Russian novelist Irène Némirovsky: "Waiting is erotic."

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
"If you ask for help, it comes, but not in any way you'd ever know." Poet Gary Snyder said that, and now I'm passing it on to you, Capricorn. The coming weeks will be an excellent time for you to think deeply about the precise kinds of help you would most benefit from—even as you loosen up your expectations about how your requests for aid might be fulfilled. Be aggressive in seeking assistance, but ready and willing to be surprised as it arrives.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
For a limited time only, 153 is your lucky number. Mauve and olive are your colors of destiny, the platypus is your power animal and torn burlap mended with silk thread is your magic textile. I realize that all of this may sound odd, but it's the straight-up truth. The nature of the cosmic rhythms are rather erratic right now. To be in maximum alignment with the irregular opportunities that are headed your way, you should probably make yourself magnificently mysterious, even to yourself. To quote an old teacher, this might be a good time to be "so unpredictable that not even you yourself knows what's going to happen."

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