REAL ASTROLOGY for an unreal world

Aries (March 21-April 19): The brilliant Aries artist Vincent van Gogh never mastered the art of translating his genius into cold cash. His Portrait of Dr. Gachet may have garnered $82.5 million in 1990, but during his lifetime he sold just one painting, for less than $100.

The bad news is that you're not as talented as van Gogh. The good news is that you'll be rewarded for your talents far more than he ever was for his -- and the next few weeks should prove it. Your homework: Brainstorm about how to sell yourself better without selling out.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): As my birthday gift to you, I'm launching a campaign to fight negative stereotypes about Tauruses. I'll periodically plant subliminal messages in all the other signs' horoscopes, hoping to convince them you're not a stolid, stubborn, stingy slowpoke. I'll do everything in my power to make them aware of your sweet, sensual soulfulness, your prolifically productive dynamism and your tastefully practical sensitivity. By this time next year, I predict your popularity will have increased by 15 percent -- at least among the readers of this column -- as will the number of people who want you to use their tools and share their thrills.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): In the old days, it was possible to buy forgiveness. Until Martin Luther came along to spoil the fun, the Catholic Church used to sell indulgences, which buyers could supposedly trade in purgatory for a reduced punishment for their earthly sins. I'd like to revive that quaint idea during this, the time when you Geminis need absolution most. Here's my offer. Send me $1 million for each sin you want forgiven. The only condition is that you can't use the government's legal tender: Draw or paint or collage your own version. For proper credit, write a description of the sin on the fake money. Send to: Forgive$$, Box 150247, San Rafael, CA 94915.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): You want sugar? You need candy? So it seems. Intense yearnings for cream-filled doughnuts and chocolate kisses are infiltrating your heart. Sappy emotions and syrupy words are threatening to turn your imagination into mush. Next you'll be fantasizing that if only everyone would be extra, extra nice to you, your life would be a masterpiece.

But you must sublimate these urges, honey. It's not that they're wrong -- just that they're incomplete, immature. What you really need is not cake and flattery and sentimentality, but a rougher, tougher sweetness. A wilder, stronger sweetness. A sweetness that can move mountains.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Here's your mantra for this week. "I KNOW WHAT TO DO AND I KNOW WHEN TO DO IT." Say this aloud three times as soon as you wake up, again just before lunch and again before falling asleep. "I KNOW WHAT TO DO AND I KNOW WHEN TO DO IT." Don't let anyone trick you into thinking they have a smarter idea about what's best for you. Don't let any voice from the past or future sabotage your link to the simple truth. "I KNOW WHAT TO DO AND I KNOW WHEN TO DO IT." Your entire year up until now may have been a shaggy-dog story in search of a punch line, but this week will bring three equally pithy punch lines.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In answer to queries from several straitlaced Virgo readers: No, I don't take drugs. None. Zero. My long-term indulgence in meditation, dreamwork and therapy have, however, turned me into a weird, radical, calm-eyed menace to devolution. Take that into consideration as you contemplate my advice for you this week, which is: Blow your own mind, baby. Expand your frontiers, raise your expectations and pump up your fantasy life. Get high -- preferably without breaking any important laws.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Usually you're the model of harmony and balance, spreading relaxation wherever you go. That's part of what makes you so beautiful, and I'd never want you to change. Every now and then, though, you need to treat yourself to a big, bad-ass blowout -- what we in the consciousness industry call a catharsis. I'm not necessarily talking about smashing your full set of Star Trek mugs against the wall or staging postmidnight shouting matches that entertain the whole neighborhood. After all, tears can be roused as much by poignant joy as by sad anger. And uninhibited blubbering will be the best proof that you're reaching the necessary state of extremity.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): As I mull over your imminent future, I keep hearing the immortal words of the late great Scorpio, Rev. William Spooner. "We all know what it is," he once pontificated, "to have a half-warmed fish inside us." Of course, what he probably meant -- as a premier practitioner of that slip of the tongue known as a spoonerism -- was, "We all know what it is to have a half-formed wish inside us."

You Scorpios especially know this right now. But maybe you don't realize how important it is for you to ripen that half-formed wish into a fully formed one -- preferably in one swell foop. If you're a believer in divine intervention, you should lobby for its help in this matter. The Lord, as Rev. Spooner once said, is a shoving leopard.

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