REAL ASTROLOGY for an unreal world

Aries (March 21-April 19): It'd be hard to dream up a more favorable astrological configuration for amour and adventure than the one that's now visiting you. Lovey-dovey Venus is gliding through your House of New Beginnings. Rowdy Mars is cheerfully drunk in your House of Romance and Drama. And jovial, expansive Jupiter is wandering around your House of Education and Travel.

What's it all mean? Will you soon be studying tantric monkey business on a beach? Are you about to be seduced in a sauna by a teacher? Will you become infatuated with a traveler who'll inspire you to mutate your identity? I'm tempted to say that all these speculations are too conservative.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): It's the first annual Build Up Your Confidence by Any Means Possible Week. In the next seven days you have poetic license and astrological permission to go after the easy victories. Feel free to pick fights with 90-pound (or 90-IQ) weaklings. Hang around people who think you're the next best thing to God, and give signs to secret admirers that it's okay to become less secretive. Polish up your trophies, wear all your medals and give dramatic readings of your best letters of recommendation. If anyone's offended, tell 'em you're acting on orders from your soul doctor.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Are you alone right now? If not, get away someplace private ASAP. When you're sure you won't be disturbed, start bitching and complaining out loud. That's right. Talk to yourself. Or rather cry and moan and wail to yourself. Fuss and bellyache and mourn about every little thing that's driving you crazy. For best results, wave your arms and leap off the ground. Spin around in erratic circles while mussing your hair and slobbering. Faster. Harder. Take lots of deep breaths. Harder. Faster. Milk those poignant feelings, my sad little clown. Wallow in those pungent fantasies. Lurch, gnash, writhe and twist until you realize there's no longer any need for you to pretend to be in control. And bitch bitch bitch bitch until you're all bitched out.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): If you're a typical Cancer, you're so far ahead of the game that your opponents cannot possibly catch up. Nor can you mess up enough to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. You're fail-safe, in other words -- foolproof and fully guaranteed.

At a radiant moment like this, it would be shrewd of you to assemble what I call a problem team. A problem team is a group of smart friends whose job it is to dream up every conceivable glitch that could assail you in the weeks and months to come. They dry-run you through simulated emergencies and test your reflexes -- in the process making you so resourceful that those emergencies become less likely to occur.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I dare you to say yes to a query you've always said no to before. I double dare you to try three impossible feats before lunch every day. I triple dare you to believe you're a virtual genius at getting people to like you and show sympathy for your goals. I quadruple dare you to drive your family crazy for all the right reasons. I octuple dare you to fantasize that your delusions of grandeur have rarely been so close to coming true.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Scientific studies show that really smart people are likely to be first-born or without siblings; breast-fed as infants; somewhat feminine if men and somewhat masculine if women. My own research suggests that all this may be true, but it's also the case that more really smart people are Virgos than any other sign.

Unfortunately, a lot of you brilliant Virgos are not so profoundly wise as you are spectacularly clever. But fortunately, there are astrological phases, like now, when you have cosmic help in translating your cleverness into wisdom.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Meaningless coincidence or telltale synchronicity? The phone number for the Fetish Hotline, a sex phone service in Seattle, is only one digit away from the number of Seattle's sixth precinct police department.

Meaningless coincidence or telltale synchronicity? On the night after you indulge a forbidden fantasy, you'll dream of your fourth-grade teacher slapping your wrist.

Meaningless coincidence or telltale synchronicity? Within 72 hours after reading this message, you will experience a showdown between your inner censor and your inner slut.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Once I was in a dilemma analogous to the one you're in now. I'd fallen in love with a woman who I thought loved me, too, but she'd mysteriously left for the Philippines right in the middle of our courtship. I felt confused, hanging, weightless. At the height of my angst, I received a package from her. It contained the blue silk handkerchief she'd used to wipe her face as she'd bicycled up the side of a volcano. This was the magical artifact I'd longed for, the unambiguous sign that she wanted to capture my imagination forever.

You'll be given your artifact and sign this week.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Just this once, you've got clearance to load up on preservatives, leave a beer can in the wilderness, watch stupid TV game shows and say silly things to Beautiful People. Absolute purity, after all, can make you even sicker than being naughty every once in a while.

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