REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): This is the astrological season when you're most likely to be hypocritical. I'm not saying you will be. I'm simply noting that it'll be easier than usual for you to act like that San Diego politician who founded the Center for Family Values despite the fact he's been married five times and owes $18,000 in child support.

As usual, though, it's exactly when the danger's greatest that the opportunities are ripest. If you can manage to avoid being a duplicitous fraud, I bet you'll strike a feisty blow in behalf of your highest values.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): More than anything right now you need a ripe, juicy, sweet, ready-to-devour peach. Not canned peaches. Not peach pie or peach juice. The real, raw thing. I know that may be difficult this time of year, but it's not impossible. Call around. Be willing to travel. And keep the image of the peach glimmering always in the back of your mind. But if you can't find that delicious prize, get the next-best treat: an intimate encounter with a person who closely resembles a fresh peach.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Don't listen to fortunetellers, busybodies, or fearmongerers this week. The message they're likely to burden you with will probably be something like, "The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an oncoming train." And if you believe that bad advice, you'll no doubt turn tail and try to outrun the nonexistent train, thereby missing your date with destiny. In fact, my impressionable friend, the light at the end of the tunnel is not something to fear, but rather a pretty friendly influence -- maybe even the flashlight of a dealmaker.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Another Halloween. Another stereotype-exploding story featuring a beautiful violation of rules that needed to be violated. What is it about the Season of the Witch that brings out the swashbuckling insurgent in you? All the traditional astrologers can say what they want about your timidity and passivity. I hereby affirm that when you decide to unleash your kaleidoscopic imagination, no one can match your ballsy creativity.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): Uh-oh. I can sense you whirling into one of those what-if-I'm-not-who-I-say-I-am moods -- with all the attendant crumbling of foundations and slippage of identity. This once-a-year bout with rootlessness and self-doubt wouldn't be so disturbing if you could only recall what you swore you'd keep in mind when it happened last time: that it's temporary; that even though it hurts so bad at first, it hurts so good later. Remember? In a few weeks, after you discover resources you didn't know you had, you'll be better than fine.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The word "maze" has several shades of meaning. In its most common usage, it refers to a puzzling tangle of choices that lead nowhere and promise nothing but frustration. But there are other nuances of the term that are less desolate. In ancient myths, the maze was a place of ritual testing for the hero, wherein he or she might employ ingenuity to win access to a well-hidden treasure or lover. In modern behavioral psychology labs, the maze is an experimental structure used to investigate -- and in some cases stimulate -- learning in rats. Believe it or not, the maze you're wandering in right now has more in common with these second two meanings than the first.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I have an idea about how to turn you into more of a money magnet. Ironically, it requires you to ignore the almighty dollar altogether. What I propose is that you fantasize about those experiences, people, and things in your life which you've been mostly able to enjoy for free. Brainstorm too about everything you own or do or know which is highly valuable to you but which you would not or could not sell. Make a list of all these priceless treasures and muse on them frequently. Like magic, your power to attract greater wealth will grow.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): "Dear Dream Doctor: If you die in your dreams, does that mean you're going to actually kick the bucket in real life? Last night I fell into a giant vat of boiling chocolate, and the next thing I knew I was an angel with giant wings that were too heavy to flap. -- Scared Scorpio"

Dear Scared: No, dying in dreams doesn't mean you're about to meet the Reaper. In fact, just the opposite. It often indicates you've shed a decaying self-image that's been half-killing you, which will in turn lead to a rebirth of your lust for life. I interpret your dream this way: A blissful immersion in sweet, hot love will soon complete the dissolution of the Old You, and as a result you'll have to learn to use talents that've been dormant.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): More often than not, around this time of year you resemble a shipwreck survivor clutching a piece of driftwood in shark-infested waters. This time, though, the hull of your vessel is fully intact, you're not partying yourself into oblivion, and you're already taking evasive maneuvers to detour around that big iceberg ahead. Right? At least that's what I conclude from the fact that the lucky planet Jupiter and the energizing planet Mars are cruising through your sign in high gear, mitigating other astrological factors that might cause you to fall asleep at the wheel.

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