REAL ASTROLOGY For an Unreal World

Aries (March 21-April 19): If you were living in Europe 1,300 years ago, you'd likely have spent the early days of April performing ritualized lovemaking in the plowed fields, hoping thereby to propitiate the growth of the crops in the coming growing season. I think it's a shame this practice has fallen into disuse, and I'd like to heartily recommend it to you in the week ahead. You don't, of course, necessarily have to donate your tantric magic solely to the tomatoes, zucchinis, and beets. In fact, it'll probably have an even more salutary effect on the psychic "crops" you want to cultivate during the next five months. But I still suggest you do the holy deed in a garden or meadow.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): I'd like to let you know about our self-help group, Thumb-Suckers Anonymous. Unlike all other 12-step programs, our organization celebrates the habit it's named for. We protest the taboo against adult thumb-sucking and advocate the disciplined use of this forbidden comfort in the eternal quest for more nurturing.

As chief spokesperson for Thumb-Suckers Anonymous, I'm formally inviting you to join us in this bold experiment in do-it-yourself therapy. It's high time you learned to be proud of how you console and cherish and nurse yourself.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): A long time ago in a land far away, a wanderer who looked and acted and felt a lot like you cowered outside the gates of a shining palace and howled, "I'm hungry. Why doesn't anyone notice me? I need a hug. I'm afraid of the dark. Why can't I come in?" And of course no one responded. And the wanderer trudged away, defeated.

This week that same traveler will stand outside the gates of another shining palace. Only this time the cry will be very different: "Hey! I'm no longer willing to be hungry and lonely and afraid. Let me in this instant." And the gates will open. The exile will be over.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): For several years, Maharishi Mahesh has sent teams of mystics into selected North American cities, having instructed them on how to lower the crime rate through collaborative meditation exercises. Statistics indicate their efforts may be working. I thought that maybe we could try a similar group meditation this week, only with a more immediate and selfish purpose. (Don't worry about karmic repercussions. The planetary forces are willing to indulge us Cancerians right now.) Mark 3 p.m. EST, April 6 on your calendar. For five minutes, no more, I ask that everyone who reads this horoscope murmur the following prayer: "I fervently pray that all Cancerians everywhere will soon meet the people who'll help them climax their unfinished dreams."

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22): I hesitate to bring up the word faith. Most likely it means nothing to you. It's either been drained of all its juice by fundamentalists and New Agers, or else you've become so cynical that it's not even interesting enough for you to make fun of. But on the remote chance you'd consider the possibility that faith might be a vivid word for you again someday, I'm asking you to re-examine it. What if faith has an actual power to materialize improbable wishes? What if it alters your brain chemistry in such a way as to enhance your talents and attract the exact resources you need? And best of all, what if it gives you license to be outrageously passionate?

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Breakthrough is less likely to come your way via reasonable angels with perfect bodies than by cranky saints with smudged halos. How they catalyze the quantum leap is less likely to be by carrying you on their backs than by flinging banana peels in your path. Breakthrough, in other words, may look a lot like breakdown at first. This is normal and healthy, not a consequence of weird karma. In other words, don't have a nice day; have a real day.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): RIDE THE SNAKE, Libra. I know this might at first glance appear to be rather extreme advice to offer a dignified person such as yourself. But that's as it should be, because this is an extravagant, unreasonable week. So like I said, RIDE THE FRIGGING SNAKE. I mean undo your top two buttons, fling off all your jewelry, and jump on. And don't hop off until you have blown your cover, totally messed up your hair, and scratched your most unscratchable itch.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Astrologers say that the scorpion is the animal totem for the unevolved members of your sign -- meaning those of you who love to sting so much you'll even resort to stinging yourself when there are no other victims handy. Evolved Scorpios, on the other hand, are ruled by the eagle, which in the Western mystery tradition is a symbol for the sublimation of compulsive lust into useful magic. In the real world, of course, the distinction between the two types isn't so clear-cut. Most of you are a blend of evolved and unevolved. I will say, however, that in the next six weeks you'll have an excellent chance to increase the eagle's power at the expense of the scorpion's.

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