REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): It's 1 a.m., smack in the middle of my workday. Empty wrappers from organic chocolate bars surround my computer. Two cups of Earl Grey tea have more than fortified my synaptic activity. In other words, I'm totally wired. I'm straining to channel your horoscope, but my mind's racing so wildly I can't trust it to bring me the truth. (Kind of like you?) I step outside on my porch, hoping the night air will whomp some sense into me. Then, suddenly, a haiku moment: Possum on persimmon tree branch/ Eclipsing dusky drowsy moon/ Moves more slowly than I could ever hope to. I slide back into my toasty room, ready to deliver the advice you need this week: Act as if time is your ally, not your adversary.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Food writer Barbara Nachman recently wrote a piece on the discrepancies between the gorgeous photos on the package and the actual food inside. Here's what she wrote about Celeste's Pizza-for-One: "What you see: A crisp, thin-crust pizza drizzled with creamy white cheese and studded with 40 plump sausages. What you get: A thin pizza crust hidden under mottled pink goo and pocked with 40 tiny meat pellets." I'm bringing this up, Taurus, in hopes of gently preparing you for your week ahead. Incongruities, I'm afraid, will abound. What you'll see: catharsis-rich soap operas. What you'll get: meandering shaggy dog stories.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): There must have been, more than 2,000 years ago, a magic moment when a burst of inspiration seared through the mind of the emperor Shih Huang-ti, giving him the idea to create the Great Wall of China. Try to imagine, Gemini, that someday there'll come an analogous moment in your own life. And then dare to hope that this moment will arrive in the next 10 days. Picture a cosmic opening during which you will glimpse the outlines of a magnificent project that'll motivate you for years to come.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): A few weeks ago, Bosnia's foreign minister invited me to Sarajevo to do some astrological intelligence-gathering. Though flattered, I declined. My Cancerian needs for privacy and self-protection were so monumental that I couldn't bear leaving my house, let alone flying into the middle of a war zone. I'm sure all you other Crabs felt something very similar. Since then, though, the gods of the underworld have finished pushing all my buttons -- as I'm sure they have yours. And now my wanderlust is starting to billow -- as I'm positive yours will, too. I suggest, therefore, that you embark on an adventure as riotous as the one I'm plotting.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): This week's horoscope is classified 10 levels above top secret. I wish I could spill it in its glorious entirety, but if I did you'd instantly grow stronger and smarter than everyone you know -- and I don't think you're ready to handle that. You know that old saying, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Here's the only clue I'm at liberty to reveal: The secret you're most ashamed of just happens to be the key to getting the love you've been missing.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Feb. 29 is rarer and weirder by far than Friday the 13th, yet bears little of its superstitious taint. In fact, Leap Year Day has historically been regarded as a special window of opportunity during which women could buck the cultural tradition and propose marriage to men. Calendar expert James Koehnline even goes so far as to suggest that we dub this holiday "Reverse Chivalry Day." Now it so happens that this whole week is an excellent astrological time for you Virgos to turn all sorts of tables and flip all kinds of flops, so I recommend that you celebrate Leap Year Day every day.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): This week is about dealing with your fallibility, your mortality, and your unredeemed darkness -- if you're brave. But if you're cowardly, this week will be about clinging to your false pride, rationalizing your wrong turns, and running away from the tests your guardian angel desperately wants you to negotiate. I guess it's possible you'll figure out a way to skulk down the middle path: irresolute waffling, noncommittal paralysis, and clever cynicism. Unless you choose the courageous way out, though, next week's horoscope will be exactly the same as this one.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Until the 19th century, scientists trumpeted the dogma that meteorites were a myth. It was not possible for rocks to fall from the skies, the experts asserted, and therefore they didn't -- even when ordinary folks reported that they did. Likewise, scientists refused to believe in dinosaurs until the 19th century, despite the fact that what we now call fossils had been found in the earth for all of recorded history. If you surmise I'm drawing a parallel to the way scientists now treat UFOs, you're right. But I'm also asking you Scorpios to prevent your oh-so-rational mind from squelching the curious magic that's erupting in your own personal life.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Cabin fever. Have you got it? If not, get it. Now! You hear me? You have no right to be out gallivanting around to every human zoo in town. So go home. Bake some damn cookies or something. Write in your journal. Find out why the planets are beaming so many hunker-down vibes down on you. You need a nap, homeboys and homegirls. Two, three, many naps. You need to, I don't know, crochet in front of the TV while soaking your feet in Epsom salts. You need to play board games until you're so bored you find out what you've been avoiding. Or something. GO HOME!

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