REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): Have you ever tried lighting junk food on fire? The folks who publish Earth Island Journal did, with amazing results. While a Cheez-It flared for just 46 seconds before turning to ash, a single Dorito burned for a full 3 1/2 minutes! Take this to heart, please, Aries. My astrological instincts tell me you're close to one of those fiery eruptions of yours -- you know, the kind where you smash all the furniture and use it to build a bonfire in the back yard. I'd much rather see you find a more amusing way to get this volcanic angst out of your system -- like, for instance, by incinerating 30 bags of Doritos in your fireplace. You might as well laugh while you're blowing a fuse.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): There's never been a worse time for you to get down on your knees, play easy to get, or give yourself away for free. On the other hand, there's never been a better time for you to seek endorsement deals, raise your rates, or launch a charm offensive designed to win over the hearts, minds, and checkbooks of holdouts. Keep your inner puppy locked away for now; your inner CEO is ready to rock.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Kurt Vonnegut once remarked, "If you really want to hurt your parents and don't have enough nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts." And why am I quoting Vonnegut's sardonic wisdom at this juncture in your personal history? To put it as delicately as I can, it's high time for you to cut the psychic umbilical cord, as every child must ultimately do, in order to take full possession of your own life. I recommend that you "hurt" your parents -- as gracefully as possible, please -- by rejecting once and for all their notions of who you should be. You now have a wide-open window of opportunity to declare your independence from your early conditioning.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): The rafflesia is by far the world's largest flower. Native to Indonesia's tropical forests, it can grow 3 feet wide and weigh more than 4 pounds. While unquestionably beautiful, with its gargantuan iridescent orange-pink petals, it's also monstrous. In fact, I'd prefer not to use it as a metaphor for your life in the week ahead. I'd rather you remained more like a voluptuous blood-red rose in full bloom -- as you've been lately -- and didn't mutate into a rafflesia, with its alarming, intimidating loveliness.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I rarely bother trying to convert those frothing "skeptics" who rail against astrology with a hostile and arrogant passion that belies their supposed scientific rationality. They're as dogmatically close-minded as any fundamentalist Christian. When I'm in a giddy mood, though, I may tell them about the Crawford Perspectives, a top-rated Wall Street investment newsletter that makes extensive use of astrology. Or I might quote the obscenely wealthy J.P. Morgan, who said, "Millionaires don't use astrology; billionaires do." Which brings me to my main point, Leo: The next few weeks will be an excellent time, astrologically speaking, for you to get richer quicker.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): This week's morality play is brought to you by Richard Lionheart, a medieval king of England born under the sign of Virgo. Legend holds that while still a young man, Richard was captured and imprisoned by his enemy Modard. After languishing alone in his cell for days, Richard awoke one dawn to confront a new companion: a starving lion, brought there by Modard's stewards. Bypassing thought, Richard jammed his right arm down the gullet of the lion and ripped out its heart, felling it instantly. What does all this have to do with you, Virgo? Could it be you'll face a challenge resembling Richard Lionheart's? Yes -- in a way. There'll be no physical danger, but you'll need a similar blend of courage, ingenuity, and the element of surprise.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You won't be attacked by a swarm of bees or pack of dogs or gang of lawyers this week. Nor will you rip your shirt on a nail protruding from a doorway or contract E. coli at a fast-food restaurant or get yelled at by your boss for a mistake you didn't even make. However, there's a good chance you'll receive a stunning signal that it's time to start working harder on the most unripe part of your personality.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Scientists say sperm counts are dropping steadily all over the world. (Environmental pollutants seem to be the cause.) Nevertheless, the current placement of planets impels me to predict that Scorpio sperm counts will be soaring in the weeks ahead. In response, you men should take extra precautions to ensure you won't be demonically possessed by lust. In a related development, Scorpio females will find that at least 25 percent of their usual inhibitions will be inoperative. You women should, as a result, make sure you avoid situations where an absence of restraint might mess with your long-term goals.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I wish I could speak frankly with you about the problems you're having confronting your problems. But I won't speak frankly, because I know that would only tick you off and cause you to procrastinate all the more. So instead I'll praise you for your avoidance skills. I'll encourage you to keep your attention distracted from the trouble murmuring in the background. Why would you want to fool with those minor irritations anyway? It'll be much more fun to wait until they turn into roaring meltdowns. Right?

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