REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): The definition of magic, according to Brezsny's Unabridged Dictionary, is as follows: creating changes to accomplish the desires of one's higher self. The Four Laws of Magic, as formulated by mystery schools thousands of years ago, are as follows: to know, to will, to dare, to keep silent.

I'm bringing these matters up for two reasons: 1) to make sure the magic you attempt this week isn't dedicated to the desires of your lower self; 2) to urge you not to underestimate the importance of the fourth Law of Magic. It's crucial that you don't gab and chat about the Big Transformation to those who aren't going to help you with it and who don't need to know about it.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Your secret weapons this week are beauty and truth. The less nasty and manipulative you are in the way you express your aggression, the more likely it is you'll win (or at least neutralize) every struggle. Take a cue from the convenience stores that chase away drug dealers loitering outside by blasting Mozart and Beethoven on loudspeakers.

This is not, by the way, the same as a turn-the-other-cheek policy. The object is not to be nice and polite and passive, but to be disarmingly candid and forcefully graceful and righteously commanding.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): If you're an athlete, I predict you're about to discover how to make a tiny adjustment in your technique that markedly improves your game. If you're a pilot on a transoceanic flight, I'll take a wild guess and say that it's probably time to initiate a midcourse correction so as to avoid a brewing storm. And if you're just a normal person with a car, body, or relationship that hasn't had a checkup lately, I urge you to fix what ain't broke.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Metaphorically speaking, you're now in labor and due to give birth very soon. It's as if you're dilated 9 centimeters and the contractions are coming two minutes apart. This is the hardest part. In the extremity of your discomfort you might start demanding something to knock you out. But I implore you to stay awake and alert right through till the end. I promise that the ordeal is almost over -- and that it will be followed by a shimmering release that rivals the best orgasm you ever had.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): If I were producing a school play right now, I'd want you to play the part of a tree. How would you feel about that? Would you be willing to throw yourself into the part with all your passion and intelligence? Outwardly, of course, it might not look like you'd be doing much, but to create the right effect you'd have to summon an incredibly rich inner experience of what it means to be silent and rooted and steady and very much in sync with the rhythms of the seasons. By the way, would you also be willing to be the understudy for the part of the well?

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Holding a sheaf of papers covered with notes, the young student goes up to the older woman at the blackboard. "But teacher!" she opines with exasperation. "There could be a hundred different correct answers to this question!" The teacher smiles with satisfaction, sensing the student is on the verge of a lesson that'll nourish her for years. "That's right, dear." The student presses further. "But which answer do I give if I want to get full credit?" Pausing only a moment, the teacher almost whispers her reply in a conspiratorial tone: "Whichever answer reminds you of a rose blooming in the snow."

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Welcome to the third session of our project to make you richer quicker. Here's this week's timely wealth-building tip: There is a valuable resource right under your nose. No one sees it for what it is. This asset may even be dormant or hidden within a place or situation or person that is generally considered nearly worthless.

As you meditate on this puzzle, take your cue from the yew tree, which for decades has been regarded as garbage by the timber industry. Only recently have researchers found that its bark and needles contain a natural drug effective in treating some forms of cancer.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Your new vocabulary word for the week is pyrokleptomania. It describes the syndrome of someone who has a compulsion to steal fire -- like that Prometheus dude in Greek mythology, who pilfered a glowing coal from the gods and gave it as a gift to humankind. The gods were pissed about it and ended up chaining him to a rock, where a vulture chewed on his liver for all eternity.

Pyrokleptomania is your special term for the week because I sense you may be experiencing an urge very much like it. Alas, the "fire" you're eyeing isn't quite as spectacular as Prometheus'. But then your punishment will be nowhere near as severe as his -- even if you're caught, which is doubtful.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): What does "selling out" mean, anyway? Most commonly, it refers to someone who sacrifices her soul in order to make lots of money. I'd like to expand the definition to include any act in which you trade authenticity for popularity; any behavior in which you seek power or praise at the expense of truth and heart. Why am I bringing this up now? To sell out or not to sell out is one of the core issues of every Sagittarian's life. It's a challenge that'll just keep testing you and testing you till the end of your days. But maybe none of those tests will be as tricky and fun and difficult as the one that's approaching.

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