REAL ASTROLOGY for an unreal world

Aries (March 21-April 19): You can pass for normal this week, but it would be better for your relationship with yourself if you didn't. You could try to hide your rough edges, but it would be smarter to act as if those rough edges were the raw material for future works of art and acts of genius. Catch my drift, Aries? You'll be no use to anyone if you try to be a fine, upstanding individual and pillar of the community. Be bent and you won't get broken.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Brothers and sisters, this is a story about a hard-working Taurus farmer named Robert Landley. The paint on his house was always faded and peeling. He drove beat-up old trucks and was as frugal as a monk. When it came time to splurge on a new tool, he'd sell a load of stored grain to raise the cash. It was only after he passed away at age 71 that neighbors discovered Landley was a millionaire.

Now I ask you, brothers and sisters, are you traveling the same path? Will you keep serving your future at the expense of your present? Or will you promise yourself today that you'll wake up and smell the coffee ... and the roses ... and the mud puddles that would be so much fun to play in?

Gemini (May 21-June 20): I can't recall what appallingly glib celebrity said that he'd rather look good than feel good. I only know that you are dangerously close to embracing his attitude this week. The ironic truth, however, is that if you do put your priority on looking good -- making favorable impressions, living up to people's expectations, wearing uncomfortable but sleek clothes -- you'll end up feeling awful and looking worse. If, on the other hand, you place the emphasis on feeling good -- following your heart, buying experiences that nurture your secret self, avoiding alienating people and events no matter how hip they are -- you'll ultimately feel good and look good.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): What better time than the last few weeks before our birthdays, my fellow Cancerians, to celebrate the Flaw Fest? During the Flaw Fest, we don't try to cover up our vices and mistakes; we give thanks for all the intense feelings and surprising teachings they've provided. During the Flaw Fest, we take inventory of our failures and squeeze every last tear out of them, every last ounce of remorse, every last clue about what not to do in the future.

Dunce caps on, everyone? "Kick Me" sign taped to your backs? Milk spilled? Then grab your silk whips and let the self-flagellation party begin.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Please ignore those Fellini-esque scenes flitting at the peripheries, Leo. Life may imitate a Hieronymus Bosch painting in a few weeks, but that's not your problem now. Your duty for the foreseeable future is to share your winnings, turn your recent breakthroughs into permanent fixtures, and show magnanimity to your enemies. In fact, I suspect that the more generous grace you demonstrate in the next two weeks, the fewer freak shows you'll have to endure a month from now.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Your body's now worth about $3.2 million, but don't sell it yet. By next week it could very well appreciate in value to over a cool $5.5 million. And I'm not just buttering you up in hopes of getting you to like me better, either. As hard as it may be for a nonbeliever like you to accept, you're currently enjoying a lavish payback of sweet karma from all the good deeds you did before you knew any better.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Stop hiding secrets from yourself. Try going a whole week without telling a single lie. Forget all your fascinating opinions and act as if you're an anthropologist from Mars. Ask fate to give you an adventure your rational mind considers almost impossible. Review in loving detail the history of your life and remember exactly why you came to be where you are now. Prove you don't need to spend money in order to have a good time; in other words, live for free. Gaze into your own eyes in the mirror for 15 minutes.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): An anonymous caller left a wry message on my machine. "Right now," she muttered, "I'm studying the Bible while listening to Megadeth and drinking a martini. Am I weird and twisted, or am I just a normal Scorpio?" She didn't leave her number, so I'm responding here: No, the behavior you described is too mild for a classic Scorpio, especially in late spring, which is typically the most intensely Scorpionic time of the year for your sign. If you were a real Scorpio, sipping a martini while communing with Megadeth and the Bible wouldn't be extreme enough. You'd also have to be, say, tenderly teasing a saint in bondage, fantasizing about ruling the world for its own good, and piously mumbling your mantra -- backward.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I dreamed you were a benevolent tyrant pestering your friends and loved ones to treat their own bodies better and think more before opening their mouths. You were hounding them to demand more from themselves and watch less TV and take their education more seriously and get away for regular walks by their favorite bodies of water. Naturally, they all resented you for trying to make them feel so good -- at least at first. But one by one they came shuffling back to you, sometimes days later, to thank you for your tough, inspiring love.

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